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Work Visa Hong Kong | How To Apply For Free Without Any Professional Help | Updated August 2023

November 9th, 2023

Posted in Employment Visas, Musing, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza /


Work Visa Hong Kong – 100% For Free

All about Hong Kong employment visas issued under the General Employment Policy – updated as of August 2023

Work Visa Hong Kong Oldie But Goodie

Work visa Hong Kong presentation. On November 28, 2014, I was invited by the good folks at the General Assembly in Hong Kong to discuss the opportunities for their graduates to go about making an application for a work visa in Hong Kong without paying for any professional help.

In this segment, I set up the material that will follow on from this overview Introduction.

Work Visa Hong Kong Policy Updated 2023

Whilst this talk was given 9 years ago, this post has been updated in August 2023 to bring it to bang up to date with policy adjustments since then included (not that many changes over time) and I plan to reshoot the entire portfolio of the Essential Guides videos over the coming 6 months in any event, now that Hong Kong has it’s mojo back post-Covid and the co-workspaces are increasingly seeking to host such talk for their members.

The Complete Series Of Work Visa Hong Kong Videos

1-Work Visa Hong Kong – For Free – Intro – This Video

This video sets up the scene for how to go about applying for a Hong Kong work visa without paying for any professional help and breaks it down into 9 bite-sized chunks of know-how to consider when making an application for an employment visa under the General Employment Policy.

2-Work Visa Hong Kong – Need For A Job Offer

In this video, I set out how the employment visa itself requires a job offer from a well-established company in Hong Kong that will also sponsor your visa. Certain visa types do not require a job offer (IANG Fresh Graduates, Top Talent Pass & QMAS do not)

3-Work Visa Hong Kong – The Test For Approval

The test for approval is as follows. The applicant must be a professional who possesses special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong. Unless the job pays HKD2 million or more annually or otherwise entails a skill on the Talent List, then genuine efforts to recruit locally need to have been undertaken before extending the job offer to the foreign national visa applicant. The compensation must also be broadly commensurate with market rates paid to similar professionals in Hong Kong.

4-Work Visa Hong Kong – Are You a Professional?

Well, are you? Check here.

5-Work Visa Hong Kong – 3 Types of Applicant

1. Intra-company transferees: These cases are usually administrative, with minimal need for substantive argument. However, it is crucial to clearly outline how you meet the approvability test requirements, as this can speed up the approval process.

2. Locally recruited expats: If you have resided in Hong Kong for more than a few years and are changing jobs within the same industry to a different employer, the process is mainly administrative. However, if you have only a modest period of prior residence under an employment visa and have only recently had an employment visa approved, or if you are a visitor seeking to change your status to take up an offer of employment in Hong Kong, the case must be thoroughly argued.

3. Non-local expats specifically recruited from overseas: These cases require meticulous preparation and presentation. You must demonstrate how your skills, knowledge, and experience will benefit Hong Kong, especially if the hiring company is newly established or not particularly sizable. The more senior the role, the easier it is to anticipate approval

6-Work Visa Hong Kong – Accompanying Family

Legal spouses and unmarried children under the age of 18 qualify for dependant visas.

7-Work Visa Hong Kong – Why Cases Get Denied

There are several reasons why employment visa applications in Hong Kong may be denied. It is important to be aware of these reasons to avoid potential pitfalls and ensure a successful application. Some common reasons for employment visa application denial include:

1. Breach of visa conditions: If an applicant has breached the conditions of their previous visa, such as working for more than the permitted time with the employer, it can lead to a denial of their employment visa application.

2. Insufficient documentation: Providing incomplete or inaccurate documentation can result in a visa application being denied. It is crucial to ensure that all required documents are submitted accurately and promptly.

3. Lack of eligibility: To be eligible for an employment visa, applicants must meet certain criteria, such as having a good educational background, possessing special skills or knowledge that are valued in Hong Kong, and having a clean background and good character. If an applicant does not meet these eligibility requirements, their visa application may be denied.

4. Inadequate case argument: When submitting an employment visa application, it is important to articulate a strong case argument that addresses key points such as educational background, genuine job vacancy, relevance of the job, need for expatriate staff, and a suitable remuneration package. Failing to provide a compelling case argument can result in a visa application being denied.

5. Lack of a suitable employment visa sponsor: The employing enterprise must be deemed a suitable and credible employment visa sponsor by the Immigration Department. If the company is not well established, does not have a properly set up office, or does not already employ Hong Kong locals, it can lead to a denial of the visa application.

It is important to note that each visa application is assessed on a case-by-case basis, and the reasons for denial may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the applicant.

8-Work Visa Hong Kong  – Trying Again

Applying for a Reconsideration in the event of a Refusal.

9-Work Visa Hong Kong – Using the Must-Have Resources

Found below but also linked it here.

Work Visa Hong Kong 2023 Updated

Case Argument

When articulating your case argument, it is important to address several key points:

  1. Educational background: Highlight your qualifications and how they are relevant to the job.
  2. Genuine job vacancy: Demonstrate that there is a genuine job vacancy and that the employer has confirmed the offer of employment.
  3. Relevance of the job: Explain how the job is relevant to your qualifications or working experience.
  4. Need for expatriate staff: Show that the job cannot be readily taken up by the local workforce and that your unique skills are necessary.
  5. Remuneration package: Ensure that the remuneration package is broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for Professionals in Hong Kong.


Various documents are required for both the employer and employee in an employment visa application. These include:

Application forms ID990A (applicant/employee) and ID990B (employer/sponsor).
Marriage certificate (if applicable).
Birth certificate (for children).
Recent photographs (for all family members).
Copy of passport details page (for all family members).
Copy of up-to-date CV (applicant/employee).
Photocopy of all graduation certificates
Proof of academic qualifications (applicant/employee).
Copies of prior employment references and testimonials (applicant/employee).
Copy of the Letter of Engagement or Contract of Employment detailing information about the post, emolument, and term.
Various company-related documents for the employer.

Processing Time

Generally, it takes between four and six weeks for an employment visa application to be finalized by the Immigration Department. However, processing time can be longer in more complex cases.

Provisions for Dependents

If you successfully obtain an employment visa, you can bring your legal spouse and any children under the age of 18 as dependents. Visas for dependents will be issued at the same time as the employment visa, as long as the marriage or civil partnership is certified and the children are the biological or adopted offspring of at least one of the parents. Dependent visa holders are permitted to work, establish or join a business, or study without requiring further permissions from the Immigration Department.

Submission Process

The application can be submitted to the Immigration Department HQ either online or in person at the Receipt & Dispatch Unit or via the Entry Employment Visa section if you are already a Hong Kong resident and seeking to change your visa category or work visa Hong Kong sponsorship.

Approval Formalities

Once the application is approved, the Immigration Department will send a notice of the positive outcome and invite you to complete the approval formalities, which will differ depending on how the application was submitted.

Additional Considerations

It is rare for a case, unless it is an intra-company transferee type, to be approved without some dialogue with the Immigration Department.

They may raise questions and request further information, which should be submitted within 14 days.

Ensure that the Approvability Test is thoroughly addressed in the materials submitted in response to these requests.

High-quality scanned marriage and birth certificates need to be in English or Chinese or otherwise provided as official certified translations.

Stepchildren qualify for visas, but the consent of the second biological parent might be required in writing as part of the visa approval process.

For more detailed information and specific application forms, you can refer to the Hong Kong Visa Handbook, which provides comprehensive guidance on employment visas in Hong Kong.

Work Visa Hong Kong Animation Video

Work Visa Hong Kong Process Infographic

work visa hong kong

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

10 Must Have Resources For A Hong Kong Work Visa Application

Newcomers Guide to Getting an Employment Visa for Hong Kong

Visa Information On the Hong Kong Employment Visa

The Hong Kong Visa Application Roadmap

Your Employer Must Help You Get Your Hong Kong Employment Visa

How to Structure Your Hong Kong Employment Visa Application Argument


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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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