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Navigating Hong Kong's Business Visa Landscape: Your Comprehensive Guide

A visa or entry permit is required for working, studying, establishing, or joining any business or residence in the Hong Kong SAR. However, individuals holding certain travel documents, such as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport or the British National (Overseas) Passport, do not require a visa or entry permit for any purpose.

Employment Visas

All foreign nationals must obtain a visa to work in Hong Kong. Securing a work visa can be challenging, as companies need to demonstrate a genuine need for foreign talent and prove that a local professional cannot fill the vacancy.

Hong Kong offers various employment and investment visa options, including:

  • General Employment Policy (GEP) visa

  • Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP) visa

  • Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG) visa

  • Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents visa

  • Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) visa

For foreign investors, the employment visa under the General Employment Policy is most suitable. Other work visas cater to entrepreneurs and semi-skilled workers, such as technicians.

Requirements for Employment Visas

To qualify for an employment visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • No record of serious crime and no security risk

  • Good educational background, such as a degree or technical qualifications, or proven professional abilities or experience

  • A confirmed job offer

  • Remuneration in line with market levels

Documents Required for Employment Visas

From the Employee:

  • Passport

  • Copy of academic qualifications and relevant work experience

  • Recent photo

From the Employer:

  • Employment contract or letter of appointment

  • Photocopy of Business Registration Certificate

  • Proof of financial standing, such as an audited financial report

  • Details of company background, such as business activities

  • Detailed business plan

These documents must be submitted to the Immigration Department of Hong Kong SAR. Foreigners residing in the Chinese Mainland must submit their documents to the Immigration Division of the Hong Kong Government in Beijing.

Processing Time for Employment Visas

The processing time for a work visa application is approximately two to three months. If granted, the applicant will receive a permit label to affix to their passport, allowing them to enter and work in Hong Kong.

Work Visa Policies

Hong Kong has introduced several talent visa schemes to attract and retain highly skilled professionals. These schemes include visas for foreign graduates of Hong Kong universities and highly experienced professionals.

The table below summarizes the different work visa policies and talent schemes:

Visa Scheme




General Employment Policy*

General work visa applications for foreign professionals

No criminal record, good educational background, confirmed job offer, remuneration in line with market standards

Job offer required

Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates

Foreign graduates of a Hong Kong university

Non-local graduate with a qualification from a recognized Hong Kong institution

Job offer not required

Top Talent Pass Scheme

Highly skilled professionals with rich work experience

High income or degree from a top university, no criminal record

Job offer required

Technology Talent Admission Scheme

Non-local technology talent for R&D

Degree-holder in STEM, no criminal record, job offer in a specific industry

Job offer required

Quality Migrant Admission Scheme

Highly skilled persons to settle in Hong Kong

Good educational background, no criminal record, proficient in Chinese or English

Job offer not required

Foreign Domestic Helpers

Foreigners working as domestic helpers

Financial capability of the employer, standard employment contract, adherence to Hong Kong's labor laws

Job offer required

Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals

Mainland Chinese residents with special skills

Good educational background, confirmed job offer, remuneration in line with market standards

Job offer required

Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents

Second generation of Chinese Hong Kong emigrants

Aged 18-40, good educational background, proficient in Chinese or English, financial means

Job offer not required

*Some companies may be eligible for facilitation measures under the General Employment Policy. Consult the Hong Kong Immigration Department for details.

Business and Entrepreneurial Visas

Hong Kong offers visa schemes for individuals looking to establish or invest in a business without working for an existing company. The "Investment as Entrepreneurs" scheme allows individuals to relocate to Hong Kong while working for their business. Applicants must demonstrate that their business can significantly contribute to Hong Kong's economy, considering factors like business plans, turnover, financial resources, investment sum, job creation, and the introduction of new technology or skills.

Other types of business visas include:

  • Training Visa: Up to 12 months for acquiring specific skills and knowledge not available in the applicant's home country.

  • Working Holiday Visas: For citizens of participating countries aged 18-30, allowing short-term employment and study.

  • APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Scheme: For citizens of APEC member economies, enabling business travel to APEC regions for 2-3 months.

Frequent travelers to Hong Kong can apply for a "Travel Pass," valid for three years and allowing multiple visits, each lasting up to two months. Applicants must demonstrate a "genuine need" for frequent travel to Hong Kong.

Visitor’s Visa

Hong Kong grants visa-free periods for citizens of most countries, ranging from 7 to 90 days, depending on the country. British nationals can stay for up to 180 days without a visa. Visitors must have adequate funds for their stay and hold onward or return tickets unless transiting to Mainland China or Macau SAR. Visitors are prohibited from taking up employment, establishing or joining businesses, or studying without the appropriate visa.

Renewing Visas in Hong Kong

Non-permanent residents can renew their employment visas online. Those with visas obtained through schemes such as the General Employment Policy, Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents, Entrepreneurs, Non-Mainland students, and their dependents must submit renewal applications within four weeks of the expiration of their stay.

Applicants must submit completed forms and may need supplementary documents, such as travel document photocopies, Hong Kong identity card, and employer letters confirming job positions.

For detailed information and forms, consult the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

This comprehensive guide aims to help you navigate Hong Kong's business visa landscape effectively. For specific requirements and up-to-date information, always consult the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

Can Woodburn help you?


Woodburn Accountants & Advisors is one of China’s most trusted business setup advisory firms.

Woodburn Accountants & Advisors is specialized in inbound investment to China and Hong Kong. We focus on eliminating the complexities of corporate services and compliance administration. We help clients with services ranging from trademark registration and company incorporation to the full outsourcing solution for accounting, tax, and human resource services. Our advisory services can be tailor-made based on the companies’ objectives, goals and needs which vary depending on the stage they are at on their journey.


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