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FastLane Group
‘ Together We Build Better Business ’
Work Visa
An Employers Guide
to Hong Kong Visas
©FastLane Group June 2020
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
About FastLane
Founded in 2013, The FastLane Group is an
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innovation and technology to provide
venture capitalists.
Hong Kong, China and the ASEAN region.
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services, including accountancy, auditing,
This eBook was first published in June 2020
©FastLane Group 2020
and HR advisory assistance, the FastLane Group
suite of services to our clients.
on for, tax, legal or accounting advice.
in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions.
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cutting edge technologies across a suite of
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©FastLane Group June 2020
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
Table of Contents
Hong Kong’s Immigration Policy – Overview
Types of Visas
Employment Visa
Investment Visa
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme
Dependent Visa
Technology Talent Admission Scheme
Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals
Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates
Employer Obligations
Common Mistakes When Applying for a Visa
How Can a Professional Firm Help?
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
The various professional opportunities found in
Hong Kong substantiates the city’s reputation
as an attractive destination for business. With
Hong Kong recognized as a major international
economic hub, entrepreneurs and SME’s
around the world continue to utilize Hong Kong
as their base of operations. Hong Kong’s
immigration policy has played a vital role by
enhancing the city’s attractiveness to foreign
professionals and investors.
In this e-book, we look to provide an overview
of Hong Kong’s immigration policy and how
interested parties can apply for the various
visas available.
©FastLane Group June 2020
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
Hong Kong’s Immigration Policy
Hong Kong maintains a liberal immigration
policy whereby nationals of approximately
170 countries are able to travel to Hong
Kong without the need of a visa. However,
acquiring a visa for employment purposes
in Hong Kong is comparatively trickier
and applicants will need to meet various
eligibility requirements. Luckily, the Hong
Kong government offers various types of
visas to attract the abundant number of
professionals seeking employment in Hong
©FastLane Group June 2020
Types of Visas
of Visas
Kong authorities to demonstrate their education,
the presence of a genuine job vacancy and
whether the applicant has a confirmed offer of
Typically, visa schemes for entry into Hong
Kong are categorized by their nature. Visas are
recognized for their purposes of employment,
investment, starting a business and other
employment for a job relevant to their
academic qualifications. Other factors which
will be scrutinized include the remuneration
package offered to the applicant. This is done
work-related purposes.
so to determine whether the value of the
prevailing market rate for other local
Employment Visa
remuneration package is in line with the
professionals in similar fields.
As previously mentioned, Mainland Chinese
Employment Visas are granted to individuals
residents are not eligible to apply for visas
under the General Employment Policy (“GEP”)
under GEP unless they meet certain criteria.
scheme and are provided to individuals who
Overseas Chinese nationals holding Chinese
intend to reside in Hong Kong, be employed
passports may apply to the GEP scheme if
by a Hong Kong company and are typically
they are able to demonstrate that they have a
granted within four weeks upon the Hong Kong
permanent residence overseas, or that they
authorities receipt of all required application
have been residing overseas for at least one
documents. The scheme is non-sector specific
year immediately before the submission of the
and there are no limits regarding the number of
application. Under the scope of GEP, overseas
Employment Visas a Hong Kong company can
is defined as any country or territory outside
apply for. However, the application process can
of Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.
only begin once an individual has secured
Furthermore, the application must be
employment with a Hong Kong company.
submitted from an overseas address.
Unlike other visa schemes, GEP does not
Other Considerations
maintain a quota system. All applications will
be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Applicants who have successfully obtained a
visa under GEP may also apply to bring their
Generally, Mainland Chinese residents and
spouse to Hong Kong. Eligibility for this scheme
nationals of Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, North
is determined by an applicant's ability to
Korea, Nepal and Vietnam are not eligible to
demonstrate that there is a genuine relationship
apply for visas under the GEP scheme.
between the two parties and that the applicant
Nonetheless, Mainland Chinese residents can
is able to support their dependents' life in Hong
apply under certain circumstances to be
Kong. A dependent’s
discussed further below.
visa and their length
of stay will normally
Eligibility Requirements
be linked to their
sponsor, in this case,
To be eligible for a visa under GEP, an applicant
the original applicant.
must be able to pass various background checks.
Applicants must provide documentation to Hong
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
Eligibility Requirements
To meet the eligibility requirements for an
Investment Visa’s, applicants must demonstrate
through their business plan that they will make a
significant contribution to Hong Kong’s economy.
The exact criteria for what will be assessed in the
business plan is as follows:
Investment Visa
Two-year business plan stating the nature
of the business, market analysis, market
positioning, business direction, sales targets,
Hong Kong has visas catered to foreign
product marketing strategy;
entrepreneurs under the special migration visa
Two-year forecast of the profit-and-loss
scheme Entry for Investment. This visa type will be
account statement
issued to owners of Hong Kong companies is
Statement of cash flow and balance sheet;
generally issued for a one-year period and is
Organizational structure of the company;
renewable so long as the applicant's business
Extent of the company adopting new
remains viable.
technology or skills; and
Initial capital investment from the applicant
When applying, one of the primary criteria for
this visa is that the applicant must be able to
Other Considerations
demonstrate that their business will make a
significant contribution to Hong Kong’s economy.
Applicants who intend to establish or join a Hong
Authorities will determine this by closely examining
Kong start-up business will find their application
a two-year business plan and financial projection
examined and scrutinized with similar standards
submitted in the application.
to other applications. However, to the extent that
a start-up business in consideration is supported
The purpose of examining the business plan
by a Hong Kong government-backed program,
is to understand whether an applicant’s business
the application will be reviewed under more
will create jobs for Hong Kong’s workforce, and the
favorable circumstances. Such programs include
likelihood that their business will engage the
the Cyberport Incubation Program and the Design
services of other Hong Kong companies.
Incubation Program administered by the Hong
Authorities will thus scrutinize the quality of the
Kong Design Centre.
submitted business plan to ensure that grow is
achievable. Other aspects to be considered
are the operational plan and the quality of the
administrative and management team.
To improve the odds of an application's success,
applicants should make certain that their
submitted business plan demonstrates that their
business can sustain operational expenses for at
least an initial 3-6-month period.
©FastLane Group June 2020
Types of Visas
Quality Migrant Admission
Scheme (“QMAS”) Visa
The above tests are conducted on a regular
QMAS is a quota-based entrant scheme to
mark from either of these tests will be ranked
assist highly skilled or talented individuals
immigrate to Hong Kong. Such individuals are
targeted due to their ability to enhance Hong
Kong’s economic competitiveness. As opposed
to other visa schemes, QMAS does not require
their applicants to secure employment with a
basis for quota allocation purposes. Applicants
who manage to obtain a minimum passing
according to the points awarded. As this
scheme utilizes a quota system, high scoring
applicants will be allowed to further proceed
through the application process. These
individuals will be short-listed for further
Hong Kong company before arriving in Hong
Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for a visa under QMAS, applicants
must satisfy various prerequisites. Applicants
must be able to demonstrate that, apart from
being aged 18 or above, they can support
themselves and their dependents with their
own financial resources. Furthermore, they
must be proficient in written and spoken
Chinese or English and have first obtained a
Masters degree from a recognized university
or a tertiary educational institution with a
proven track record of at least 10+ years of
Applicants who are allotted a spot in
the selection quota will be issued an
Approval-in-principle letter. This letter will
working experience in their field of expertise.
invite the applicant to come to Hong Kong to
In the event that an applicant fails to provide
original versions of all their submitted
sufficient supporting documentation to
demonstrate that they have met the eligibility
requirements, or if the applicant has a criminal
record or adverse immigration record in Hong
Kong or elsewhere, an application will be
attend an in person interview and present
documents for verification purposes.
To the extent that all original documents
are accepted and the relevant application
procedures are finalized, applicants will be
issued with a visa / entry permit under the
immediately refused.
QMAS scheme.
Selection Exercise
Other Considerations
Once an applicant is deemed to have met the
Due to the number of applications the Hong
prerequisites, they will be further assessed
under either a General Points Test or an
Achievement-based Points Test.
Kong authorities receive and the time required
to process each one, an applicant can regard
their application as still being processed
unless they have received an official response.
The application processing period takes a
minimum of 6-8 months.
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
Dependent Visa
Dependent visas are only granted to the
immediate family members of foreign nationals
who were granted a Hong Kong visa for the
purposes of employment, investment, training
or study in Hong Kong. They are also granted
to the immediate family members of
permanent Hong Kong residents. In other
words, these visas are essentially relocation
visas with its application process requiring
approximately six weeks to complete.
Eligibility Requirements
To apply for a dependent visa, applicants must
fulfill meet the following conditions:
Must provide reasonable proof of a
genuine relationship between the applicant
and the sponsor
There should not be a known record that is
detrimental to the applicant
The sponsor must demonstrate that they
can substantially support their dependents
and provide suitable accommodation
during their stay in Hong Kong
When processing an application, authorities
will request identification documents, copy
of proof of financial standing and proof of
eligible to take up employment in Hong Kong if
they meet the following criteria:
Their sponsor is a Hong Kong
permanent resident
Their sponsor is not subject to
a limit of stay
They have obtained an
employment contract
They are an Entrant under the Capital
Investment Entrant Scheme or the Quality
Migrant Admission Scheme
accommodations in Hong Kong.
Please note that dependents who have been
Other Considerations
eligible to take up employment unless permis-
admitted into Hong Kong to study are not
sion has been obtained from Hong Kong’s
We recognize that oftentimes, visa applicants
Immigration Department.
are applying from abroad. In such situations,
relevant documents should be submitted in
person to the local Chinese Embassy or
Consulate in the applicant’s respective country.
Dependents should not be concerned about
their employment status as they are also
©FastLane Group June 2020
Types of Visas
Technology Talent Admission
Technology Talent Admission Scheme
(“TechTAS”) is a three-year program catered
towards overseas and Mainland Chinese
technology talent. The scheme is structured
on a quota basis and provides a fast-track
arrangement for eligible technology
companies and institutions to admit these
qualifying individuals for the purpose of
focus such as biotechnology, artificial
intelligence, cyber security, robotics or
analytics etc.
Companies applying on behalf of their
staff must ensure that their staff’s job
responsibilities are in line with the nature
of their sponsoring company. In other words,
the non-local talent must be hired for the
purposes of engaging principally in conducting
research and development in the above
conducting research and development.
mentioned areas of focus. In addition, STEM
As this scheme is run on a quota basis, there
However, to the extent that applicants only
are no specific deadlines for the application
process. So long as the quota has not been
filled, prospective applicants are encouraged
degree holders are also allowed to apply.
possess a bachelor's degree, they must also
demonstrate that they have at least one year
work experience in the relevant technology
to apply.
area to be eligible. Individuals with masters or
Each quota will be valid for 6 months.
evidence of work experience.
Within this quota validity period, the applicant
company/institute may submit applications
with the Immigration Department to sponsor
eligible non-local persons fitting the
specification set out in the quota allotment
letter to apply for an employment visa/entry
permit to work in Hong Kong.
Eligibility Requirements
Under TechTAS, employers must apply
for these visas on behalf of their employees.
Unfortunately, only eligible technology
companies and institute are allowed to apply.
Eligible parties are considered to be those
who are applying through the Hong Kong
Science and Technology Parks Corporation
(“HKSTPC”) or the Hong Kong Cyberport
doctoral degrees do not need to provide
Other Considerations
Compared to other visa application schemes
such as GEP and ASMTP, there is no need for
the employing company / institute under
TechTAS to justify their difficulty finding local
talent for recruitment.
In applying for an employment visa / entry
permit under TechTAS, applicants are
required to submit supporting documents
such as a copy of his / her valid travel
documentation, proof of academic
qualifications and work experiences, etc.
As the company’s eligibility has been
examined during the quota application stage,
Management Company Limited (“Cyberport”).
the standard processing time for visa / entry
Applicant companies must be a technology
can therefore be shortened to two weeks,
company or institute that, at the time of the
application, is a tenant or incubee of either
HKSTPC or Cyberport. Furthermore, these
companies must be engaged in a technology
permit applications under TechTAS
conditional on the receipt of all the required
documents. This processing time is
considerably shorter compared to other visa
schemes offered in Hong Kong.
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
Admission Scheme for Mainland
Talents and Professionals
Eligibility Requirements
The objective of the ASMTP is to attract qualified
experience of value that is not readily available in
Mainland Chinese talents and professionals
to work in Hong Kong. The scheme seeks
individuals to help Hong Kong meet its local
manpower needs and further enhance the city’s
competitiveness in the globalised market.
Applicants must possess special skills, knowledge
or experience of value that is not readily
available or is in shortage locally. Admitted
talents and professionals must be able to
contribute to the operation of their respective
employer and business sector with an intention
to facilitate Hong Kong’s economic development.
As mentioned above, residents of Mainland
China must possess special skills, knowledge or
Hong Kong may apply under the ASMTP.
Eligibility is determined largely by the
circumstances of the employment. Typically,
immigration authorities will view an application
favorably if they meet the following criteria:
There is no security objection and no known
record of serious crime in respect of the
The applicant has a good education
background, normally a first degree in the
relevant field, but in special circumstances,
good technical qualifications, proven
professional abilities and / or relevant
experience and achievements supported
by documentary evidence may also be
There is a genuine job vacancy at the
sponsoring company;
The applicant has a confirmed offer of
employment and is employed in a job
relevant to his academic qualifications or
work experience that cannot be readily taken
up by the local workforce; and
The remuneration package including
income, accommodation, medical and other
fringe benefits is broadly commensurate
with the prevailing market level for other
professionals of similar profession in Hong
Other Considerations
The typical entry permit application processing
time under ASMTP, upon receipt of all required
supporting application documents, is four weeks.
The Immigration Department will not be able to
start processing the application unless all the
required documents and information have been
©FastLane Group June 2020
Types of Visas
Immigration Arrangement for
Non-local Graduates (“IANG”)
IANG was introduced to encourage non-local
graduates to stay and work as professionals in
Hong Kong. Under the IANG, any non-local
student who has obtained a degree or higher
qualification from a full-time, locally accredited
program in Hong Kong can apply to stay or
return to work in Hong Kong.
Each application under IANG will be assessed
by the Hong Kong Immigration Department on
a case-by-case basis in regards to the skills
and knowledge needed for the job, complexity
of the duties to be performed and so on.
Successful applicants under IANG may be
granted permission to work in Hong Kong for
a period of 12 months on the condition that
normal immigration requirements are met,
regardless the term of employment.
Eligibility Requirements
Persons who have entered Hong Kong for the
purpose of education with a student visa /
entry permit issued by Hong Kong’s Director of
Immigration are eligible to apply - including
individuals who have graduated from Hong
Kong a long time ago.
Overseas Chinese residents who hold a
Chinese passport may apply to enter Hong
Kong under the IANG if they meet the
Applicants who cannot provide proof of
graduation are not eligible to apply under
IANG. However, to the extent that an applicant
has graduated but has yet to receive their
graduation certificate, that applicant may still
apply when their institution provides
confirmation of their graduation.
Other Considerations
Under IANG, there are no restrictions on the
number of times a non-local graduate may
apply for a visa. For example, a non-local
graduate may have been admitted to
work in Hong Kong under IANG and have
subsequently left the city after completing
their term of employment. That individual may
subsequently return to Hong Kong under
separate employment and re-apply for a visa
under IANG.
Individuals admitted under IANG are free to
seek new employment in Hong Kong during
their permitted stay without seeking prior
approval from Hong Kong’s immigration
following conditions:
Has permanent resident overseas; or
Has been residing overseas (countries or
territories outside of Mainland China,
Hong Kong or Macau) for at least one year
immediately before the submission of the
11 9
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
During a visa application process, applicants
should ensure that they remain in frequent
contact with their employer. To support an
application, applicants must obtain several
documentations that can only be provided by
an employer. These documents will be used as
supporting evidence to demonstrate the
sponsorship relationship between the
applicant and their employer.
Employers should provide their employees
with a copy of their employment contract or
letter of appointment, detailing the
remuneration benefits of the employee.
Other documents such as a copy of the
company’s Business Registration Certificate
and proof of financial standing must also be
A business plan must be submitted to the
extent that an employer is a recently formed
Hong Kong company, defined as a company
incorporated within 12 months of the date
of the visa application. The details of the
business plan must be in line with the
expectations set out in the Entry for Investment scheme. Please refer to the above for
what should be included in a submitted
business plan.
If you are an employer and have
questions regarding how you can help
your staff through their visa application
process, please contact the FastLane
Group for support!
©FastLane Group June 2020
Common mistakes when applying for a visa
Common Mistakes
When Applying for a Visa
once an application has been filed. If an
applicant has missed this deadline, the
Immigration Department will close the case
and the applicant will have to file a new
For example, under the Entry for Investment
scheme, applicants must provide a business
plan demonstrating that their business will
bring substantial positive impact on the Hong
Kong economy. The details of a business plan
must be comprehensive and answer all
questions that the authorities may ask. Information regarding the capital investment,
proposed business vehicles and planned
location of the businesses office must be
outlined. Applicants will often fail to provide all
details necessary, or may not even realize
certain information is necessary. Loosely
structured business plans that just meet the
Oftentimes, individuals will apply for a Hong
Kong visa only to get rejected. There are many
reasons why such an outcome can occur.
At the FastLane Group, we have assisted
numerous clients over the years in their visa
application process and have observed that
the most common reason for rejection
is a lack of understanding of the various
application eligibility criteria.
Applicants will often review a visa application
and its requirements themselves. However,
bare minimum requirements face a higher
chance of rejection by reviewing authorities.
Other common mistakes pertain to the
sponsorship details of employment visas.
Many individuals applying for a visa assume
that by simply having an employer sponsor
their visa application, they will be eligible to
work in Hong Kong. However, as previously
mentioned, visa applications will only be
accepted if the employer is a recognized Hong
Kong company.
a lack of clear knowledge regarding what the
Hong Kong Immgiration Department requires
hinders their ability to gather the necessary
supporting documentation to aid their
application. Moreover, the Immigration
Department will only give 2-3 weeks to submit
If you are unsure whether you
meet the eligibility requirements
for a visa, please contact the
FastLane Group for assistance!
the outstanding documents and information
©FastLane Group June 2020
FastLane Group I Work Visa An Employers Guide to Hong Kong Visas
Why Should You Hire
A Professional Firm?
To the extent that a visa applicant finds
If possible, engage a professional firm to
that their application has been rejected,
assist you in your application. Professional
submission of subsequent applications will be
firms such as the FastLane Group are
comparatively more difficult. In other words,
experienced in handling various visa
the highest likelihood of an application being
application procedures and can advise on how
accepted is the initial submission.
authorities will interpret your application.
For example, the Entry for Investment
visa places significant importance on the
submitted business plan. Professional firms,
understanding what is expected from the
reviewing authorities, can advise on how to
draft a business plan that is in line with expectations.
In addition, as many applicants are often not in
Hong Kong during the application process, a
majority of individuals will complete their
application procedures abroad. Professional
firms like the FastLane Group can act as your
local sponsor and submit your application on
an applicant’s behalf. Subsequent actions such
as liaising with authorities and handling any
subsequent submissions can also be managed
by a professional firm.
©FastLane Group June 2020
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