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Can A Non-Graduate Get A Hong Kong Work Visa To Work As A Language Teacher?

April 25th, 2024

Posted in Employment Visas, Refusals & Appeals, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Your Question Answered /


Hong Kong  work visa to work as a language teacher but no degree?

Hong Kong Work Visa

The challenge of securing a Hong Kong work visa for language teachers is rife with contradictions. This question speak to what might work in the very unusual set of circumstances posed.


“Hi, one of my friends has just recommended you guys to me so I decided to write about my case to see if there is something I can do. First of all, here’s a bit of information on my current situation.

I came to HK approx. 2 years ago to continue my studies. I got into university and studied for 18 months (the student visa was not a problem at all), then for some strong reasons I had to withdraw from university. That was almost six months ago. Then, I went back to my home country and came back. Since then I have been living with my boyfriend in HK and I’ve been trying to get a job. but even that I have got some offers none of the companies have been able to get me a working permit. I’d like to point out that I had to travel outside HK a couple times to renew my tourist visa.

I recently had an offer to teach French at a small learning centre which just opened around 7 months ago. I got plenty of experience teaching but I don’t have a certificate or relevant studies on this matter. Although, I studied a higher diploma and I got a couple of university certificates, one in Computer Studies (2nd year – Hong kong) and also I studied Business management (3rd year – Montreal).

Long story short, I would like to work in HK for some time and then get back to school. What could you recommend me in this case? Do you think there is a chance for me to get the visa permit for this job? The centre does not know the procedures to follow in a case like this. I hope you can help me to get this through.



This is quite a complex question and it’s not clear on the face of it if you’ve actually graduated from university or not.

Having had a student visa in Hong Kong previously neither helps nor hinders you in your subsequent visa applications. Although if you had graduated from a Hong Kong university, you could have secured easy working permissions under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates (IANG).

And of course, on the basis that you do eventually go back to university in Hong Kong and graduate in the future, securing employment visa permissions for any kind of work that you want to engage in will be really very straightforward. But anyway, back to the challenge at hand, it’s not clear from your question also, if the companies who previously extended job offers to you had tried to secure an employment visa for you, and in actual fact, you were rejected in those applications, which can also have an implication, or whether or not they were actually interested in helping you go through the immigration process.

If you have had previous employment visa applications rejected, then to the extent that the Immigration Department have a record of the things that you have submitted to them previously (on file) the representations and the information that are presently sitting on your file will serve as a backdrop to any future applications that you make, so that’s kind of an important element of where we sit at the moment. If you have submitted applications previously in respect of those job opportunities that came your way. Now, as for the current French language school, if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

I’ve recently come across a case where a non-graduate police officer from the UK, in actual fact, was able to secure an employment visa for her to teach English in a non-governmental organisation in Hong Kong, which came as quite a surprise. But there is some experience in my hands that show that the mere fact that you don’t have a university degree doesn’t automatically preclude you from qualifying as a language teacher in Hong Kong. Although, in fairness, in this particular instance, we were talking about an NGO employer rather than a commercial employer.

So if we piece together your sort of chequered educational background the fact that French is your mother tongue, and the fact that you’ve stated that you’ve got lots of experience teaching, it’s worthwhile giving an application for an employment visa sponsored by this new French school, a try.

You’ll have to make a good argument, possibly tying your prior education in Hong Kong university as some kind of benefit to your Chinese students of French in this instance. And it may also be worthwhile stating to the Immigration Department that this is just a temporary measure, this employment that you going to be taking up as it’s your intention to return to full time education in Hong Kong in due course, and show them proof of this.

And it may be that the Immigration Department will see that this is just an opportunity to tide you over to the time that you can get back into school and on the basis that you can properly document the fact that you have taught French extensively in the past, as you stated in your question, that together with your elements of a tertiary education until now, could see you getting the visa application approved; but as I say, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. And then finally, it’s important to remember that the school itself plays a role in your application. And if they’ve got no experience in the process, they’ll need to work with you really closely during the visa application. And to that end, please show them the video that I’ve linked to. This answer deals specifically with those challenges faced in the hands of your employer.

Okay, I hope this helps. Good luck.

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Related Post Referenced In The Podcast 

The Seven Things An Employer Needs To Know About Getting A Hong Kong Employment Visa For Foreign National Staff

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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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