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Is There Any Fixed Residency Requirement for Retention of a Hong Kong Employment Visa?

September 1st, 2018

Posted in Employment Visas, Investment Visas, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Your Question Answered /


 

Not every stint for work or business means full time residency in Hong Kong so what to do about ‘half-timers’?

QUESTION

I am pursuing options to take up employment in Hong Kong and would like to know if there is any residence requirement for retention of a work visa. For example, how long can one be absent from the country in any one year?  This issue is important to me because I also wish to retain my employment/investment interest in the middle east and so am looking at a six month in Hong Kong – six month abroad arrangement.

ANSWER

The first thing to say about this particular instance in Hong Kong Immigration is there is no such animal as a half-time visa.

Because if you’re going to get an employment visa, the assumption from the Immigration Department is that you’re effectively going to be undertaking your employment duties in Hong Kong on a full-time basis. So if you wish to secure an employment contract with somebody, where you’re expected to have a 6 months on, 6 months off arrangement, you can expect the Immigration Department to grant you an employment visa only to cover the 6 months that you’re going to be in Hong Kong. They won’t give you a 12-month period of stay in those circumstances.

So, if your intention is to come here for business and you have the intention to spend a great deal of time away from Hong Kong, showing interest other than those you’re establishing in Hong Kong and that you’ve got permissions in the first place to be here to do that.

Effectively, there is no issue, per se, about spending time away from Hong Kong, just so long as that you’ve got a good reason for being away from Hong Kong for such protracted periods and that your Hong Kong business interests have not been compromised as a result of your time being away.

So, in the application, you probably wouldn’t explain that you’re going to spend so much time away from Hong Kong but if after the fact you did spend that time away from Hong Kong, those are the conditions that you need to consider in terms of how the Immigration Department would grant you an extension on an on-going basis if they concluded from the fact, that your time spent away that you didn’t actually need permission to stay in Hong Kong to do the things that they gave you permission to do in the first place.

So the real question underlying, the real issue underlying this question is, how will this might come into play in the context of an acclaimed permanent residency seven years later. The test for permanent residency is that you need to show that you’ve continuously knowing residency in Hong Kong for a period not less than seven years. And any absences from Hong Kong will have to be of a temporary nature as evidenced by your intention at the time that you made each departure.

And so in the overall scheme of things, what you did in a particular place at a particular time, that needs to be seen in the light of how your life has been conducted throughout the seven years as a result of that pattern of your lifestyle and that in all of those circumstances, it can be said that you have been actually ordinarily residency in Hong Kong all of that time even though you had spent a lot of time away from Hong Kong so you can then go on to qualify for the right of abode. So that’s the real issue at play in this question.

I think that probably covers it all and I hope you found this useful.

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The Hong Kong Visa Geeza (a.k.a Stephen Barnes) is a co-founder of the Hong Kong Visa Centre and author of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook. A law graduate of the London School of Economics, Stephen has been practicing Hong Kong immigration since 1993 and is widely acknowledged as the leading authority on business immigration matters here for the last 24 years.

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