Our clients were UK nationals, he was an RFID engineer and his wife was a marketing expert. They had an interesting business plan to use Hong Kong as a hub for a new business manufacturing and distributing a radio frequency identity device to be incorporated into consumer electronics working seamlessly with smart phones.
Their intention was to complete the prototype in Taiwan, manufacture in China and manage the business through Hong Kong. They were both visitors to Hong Kong although his wife had many years previously held an employment visa as part of her earlier career before she had married in the UK.
Their business plan was an interesting one although it was not incredibly well funded. They had sufficient funds to finance their business in Hong Kong for the first six months of operations, which is typically sufficient for the purposes of an investment visa approval, but most of their capital had already been expended on the R&D and prototype development work undertaken in Taiwan.
When they came to us we had a long discussion about the pros and cons of the submission methodology for their application and settled on an entry visa application.
What this means is that we would make the application whilst they were physically outside of Hong Kong and promote the contention that their business planning was principally being undertaken ‘pro-forma’.
In this regard we would set out for the HKID exactly what the clients INTENDED to do once their visas were approved and allow the Immigration Department to rule on their case as though they were not yet landed in Hong Kong and so did not need to satisfy some of the more stringent requirements of the investment visa approvability test (for example, taking immediately positive steps towards establising business premises or recruiting employees early on in the piece as the business plan, post approval, called for).
This approach was really necessitated by the fact that whilst the prototype was almost ready but it had been subject to several months of delays in Taiwan as they sought to overcome an unforseen engineering challenge. This had eaten into their ready reserves of capital and meant that they didn’t have too much excess capital beyond the first six months of operating expenses to fund their Hong Kong plan.
So, even though as UK citizens, they could have easily sat out the 2-3 months case processing time with their 180 days period of stay as visitors, it made more sense for them to apply while they were outside of Hong Kong, which we did submitting the application directly to the 24/F entry employment (investment) section.
Their intention was to stay close the action in Taiwan as the prototype neared completion and if the timing lined up nicely, have their investment visa approved in Hong Kong at about that time they were ready to tool up for manufacturing at a factory in China which they had already contracted with.
After submission, the normal process played itself out. About 10 days later we received an official acknowledgement of receipt card from the HKD with the case reference number included. 10 days or so after that we got a veritable laundry list requesting further and better particulars of our clients business plans for Hong Kong and next level detail of supplementing the quite considerable information and documentation that had been inclued in the original application bundle.
One key element of the HKID requests was proof of source of funds, as well as their amounts.
As our clients has been active in Taiwan, Hong Kong , China AND the UK since they had started work on their product, they had bank accounts scattered across these four countries and each account contained an element of the funding they would need for the purposes of their business plan.
This meant the HKID’s request for updated information was, certainly in the case of China, slightly problematic as it was not always possible to get an updated statement due to a lack of internet banking facilities on the accounts.
Another curve ball which was thrown into the case consideration process mix related to the sponsor of their application, an eminent professor at a Hong Kong university.
As the technical aspects of the application were extremely complex to fathom, it became apparent that the HKID needed to be able to rely on the express testimony of someone forming part of the application who was professionally qualified to speak to the validity of the engineering concept and also its significant potential in the market place once they had moved on to production.
As a result, the HKID came back as asked our clients sponsor to provide an professional opinion as to the engineering and commercial merits, which he did, and this box was ultimately ticked and the case progress further forward.
In addition, we received three phone calls out of the blue from the HKID officer tasked with the application who wanted us to confirm certain points on the application and supply updated information. All told, we counted 7 discrete sets of submission and interactions with the HKID on this case before it went on to be approved.
To complete the process, we collected the approved visa labels from the HKID on behalf of our client, couriered them to Taiwan and coordinated their arrival dates in Hong Kong so that we could make the appointments for their HKID cards the day after they arrived with their new residence visas.
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How about you? What kind of experience have you had in progressing an investment visa application with the Hong Kong Immigration Department?