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Immigration, visas and employment

While Mainland China always requires a visa for entry, Hong Kong is a separate travel area with business-friendly immigration policies.

Visitors from over 170 countries/territories enjoy visa-free entry into Hong Kong, with limits ranging between seven and 180 days.

Immigration, visas and employment

Working visa requirements

Foreign nationals normally need a visa before living or working in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong’s light-touch visa policies mean that short-term visitors are permitted to conduct business negotiations and sign contracts while on a visitor’s visa or entry permit.

Hong Kong visa types

Employment visa

To employ people from overseas, you need to demonstrate that a prospective employee has special skills, knowledge or experience not readily available in Hong Kong. The proposed employee must be sponsored by an employer in Hong Kong.

Investment visa

This requires you to be a shareholder of a Hong Kong registered company. You can do this by:

  • Registering and setting up a company in which you are the major investor, or
  • Investing in a Hong Kong-based company

You will also need to produce details of the viability of your proposed business – or your financial position if you are investing in an existing company.

Entrepreneur visa

The applicant should be the proprietor or partner of the start-up company or a key researcher of the relevant project. The start-up business concerned should be supported by a government-backed programme with a rigorous vetting and selection process. For example:

  • StartmeupHK Venture Programme administered by InvestHK;
  • Incu-App, Incu-Bio and Incu-Tech programmes administered by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation;
  • Cyberport Incubation Programme;
  • Enterprise Support Scheme administered by the Innovation and Technology Commission; and
  • Design Incubation Programme administered by the Hong Kong Design Centre.

Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES)

The Government has announced that the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme would be suspended with effect from 15 January 2015 until further notice. The Immigration Department will continue to process applications received on or before 14 January 2015, whether already approved (including approval-in-principle and formal approval) or still being processed. For details and FAQs, please refer to Immigration Department’s website

Dependant visa

People who successfully apply for a visa can bring their spouse and dependent children under the age of 18, provided they have sufficient funds and suitable accommodation. The limit on their stay is the same as the visa holder – who is officially the ‘sponsor’. A spouse holding a dependant visa can undertake any type of lawful employment in Hong Kong.

Enhancement measures have been applied to the General Employment Policy (for both employment and investment), the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme.

The Immigration Department has also introduced a pilot scheme for the admission of the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents who have emigrated overseas. 

For more details, please refer to the following link:

Hong Kong Identity Card

By law, every Hong Kong resident over the age of 11 years must carry a Hong Kong Identity Card at all times.

If you have permission to stay in Hong Kong for more than 180 days, for example on a working or investment visa, you must apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card. The application at the Immigration Department is simple and free of charge. You need to apply within 30 days of arrival in Hong Kong.

Employment Regulations

The Employment Ordinance sets out the minimum entitlements for employees, such as statutory holidays, Mandatory Provident Fund payments, sick and maternity leave and severance and long-service payments. Employers are obliged to take out the employee’s compensation insurance policies for their employees under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance.

InvestHK can assist you with further information about immigration, visas and employment regulations.  Contact us to find out more.


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