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Am I Compelled To Apply For Hong Kong Permanent Residency After 7 Years Or Can I Maintain The Status Quo Of My Present Employment Visa?

March 16th, 2024

Posted in Employment Visas, Long Stay & PR, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Your Question Answered /


Hong Kong Permanent Residency

Once you have achieved 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong, your long stay immigration options open up considerably…


My current working visa is due to expire at the end of  September, (previously I was given an extension of 3 years in 2010), this I assume was so that I would be valid for Hong Kong Permanent Residency, (as I have been here for over 7 years now).

My question is should I seek Hong Kong Permanent Residency and/or can I just continue to add an extension to my working visa if I don’t want Hong Kong Permanent Residency?

 In addition, for either of these cases, do I have to always change/add my wife’s and 2 children’s passports visa extension to reflect these changes, (my wife would have been here for 6 years and my kids were born here in 2008 and 2011 (do they also become PR’s on the back of me?)


This is a great question and slightly unusual inasmuch as the vast majority of foreign nationals who spend their time in Hong Kong see the Right of Abode and Permanent Residency as a sort of the ultimate end goal. But you do raise some fascinating topics and I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to address them for you.

The bottom line is that no, you absolutely do not have to apply for Permanent Residency. Once you’ve gotten across the seven-year hurdle, by no means at all are you forced to do that or indeed anything. If you wish to maintain your current employment visa on an ongoing basis, then you just go through the process of extending your employment visa in September of this year, using the normal processes – you could use our visa extension kit to this end to do that, and you’d expect the immigration department would more than likely give you a three-year period of stay.

Given that you are eligible for the Right of Abode, you are certainly not compelled. I mean, a key thing about the ride of abode is that you need to put your hand on your heart and make a declaration that you’re taking Hong Kong as your only place of permanent residence. So if you can’t genuinely do that for good – reason the question is begged as to what happens come September, do you in fact need to extend your current employment visa, which at all times will require the support of your current employer? You do, in fact have another option, and that is to apply for Unconditional Stay.

This effectively is very much a similar test to the Right of Abode where you have to show that you’ve been continuously an ordinarily resident in Hong Kong for a period of not less than seven years. On the basis you pass that approvability test, then the immigration department will avail you of a status called Unconditional Stay, which means, effectively you can stay here unconditionally, and you don’t require the consent of your existing employer.

In respect of extending an employment visa, you remove all conditions to your current limit of stay including a limit of time, and then they will endorse your passport to say that effectively you’ve got Unconditional Stay and that you can live here unconditionally. The only condition associated to your Unconditional Stay is that you need to be present physically in Hong Kong on at least one occasion in any twelve month given period.

So, effectively with Unconditional Stay you can come and go, you can work for anybody, you can join in the business, you can engage in any lawful activity just so long as you do it in Hong Kong on the basis of you having been here for on at least one occasion in any twelve month given period.

Thus, for that status of Unconditional Stay which is just an administrative convenience on the part of the Immigration Department rather than a right (as it would be under the Right of Abode), there’s no requirement for you to make any declarations as to having taken Hong Kong as your only place of permanent residence. So you may find that useful.

In terms of your family members, the reality is that every single one of your family members, both your two children and your wife are going to have to qualify for the Right of Abode by themselves inasmuch as they will have to get to seven years continuous ordinary residence and they will then have to make applications to the effect that they’ve taken Hong Kong as their only place of permanent residence and go on to secure the Right of Abode.

Similarly after seven years, you can make applications for them to have Unconditional Stay status so that it would accord with yours, on the basis that your family members do continue to remain in Hong Kong with you whilst or after you’ve adjusted your immigration status potentially to Unconditional Stay or the Right of Abode, they’re going to have to continue their current dependent visa status through to such a time that they qualify for either unconditional stay or ride of abode in their own right. Nothing will happen automatically just because you’ve changed your own immigration status. They have to earn it independently of you as. So they would get extensions to their dependent visas until such a time as they be able to make an application for either as I say, unconditional stay or the right of abode in their own right subsequently. Okay, I hope you found that useful. Bye.

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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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