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Can Elderly Parents Come To Live With Their Son Who Only Holds A Hong Kong Employment Visa?

April 30th, 2024

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


If you hold a Hong Kong employment visa, bringing elderly parents to join you in Hong Kong is an area of immigration practice that is fraught with difficulty – as well as uncertainty. Dependant visas are, as a matter of policy, not available for non permanent residents yet it’s a scenario that presents itself all too frequently. This question provides an opportunity to discuss the visa possibilities in this situation.

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“Can my husband and I aged 70 and 71 join our, son a banker, whilst he holds a Hong Kong employment visa for approximately 2-4 years ?  We are UK citizens and have pensions. We would live with him and his family there.”


In Hong Kong, dependent visas are only available for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 18. For foreign nationals who are holding residence visas in Hong Kong, for example, if your son has an employment visa that’s classified as a residence visa, consequently, from the fact that I have your question, it would appear that your son is not going to be in a position to sponsor you for dependent visa permission, which is unfortunate.

On the other hand, you could, if you did have a proof of prior cohabitation (you were all living together before your son moved to Hong Kong), you could make an application for a prolonged visit either on exceptional grounds. This would give you a six-month period of stay extendable every six months and would facilitate easy access to Hong Kong and enter and exit from Hong Kong across the borders each time you decide to leave and come back again. This would obviate the difficulties of having to explain yourself to the borders officers and make it a very simple, easy way to join your family in the HKSAR. On that basis, if you were to progress a form visitor application, some would have to sponsor you and in that regard you’d have to assume all responsibility for your financial support, you’d have to show that you had a very good medical insurance policy and the fact you’ve got independent means is all to the good in respect of a prolonged visa visa application. But as I say, the necessary precondition is that you would have to show that you were living together as a family prior to his relocation to Hong Kong. And if that’s not in play, then it would be difficult for you to secure a prolonged visit visa from the department.

That said, you are UK citizens and in any event, you’re going to get 180 days, which is six months each time you present yourself as a visitor at the border.

So, in relation to the practical challenge of being able to be with your son and his family in Hong Kong, it seems to me that for a couple of years at least, if you were to make entries and exits from Hong Kong over those two years, make them on four or five separate occasions, I believe that you’d be able to actually spend the kind of time that you’d like to be spending together with your son and his family, even though it wouldn’t have you in Hong Kong as a resident per se, which would mean that you wouldn’t get a Hong Kong identity card, you wouldn’t be able to have access to the facilities, but in a very practical sense, you would have the opportunity to be together with your family.

So, in these circumstances, the Immigration Department are quite practical – they would see that your son is in Hong Kong, that you have an obvious need to spend time with him. And, I think because given that the Immigration Department deal very much in the area of discretion, you could take all your circumstances down to Immigration Department and effectively show to the Immigration Department what’s going on in your family lives and ask them to help you with the ability to stay in Hong Kong on an extended basis as visitor without actually going through the prolonged visitor visa application as such.

So all things considered, you’re in a very good position in a practical sense, because you are British nationals and you will get 180 days each time that you present yourself at the border. So go in and out, as I’ve said, maybe three or four times over the course of two years, spend 20 months, maybe 23, 24 months on that basis, and then if you find yourself having problems when you re-enter Hong Kong go down to Immigration Department with your son, explain the circumstances that you find yourself in, deliver to the Immigration Department all the information that they need to make a decision as to the bona fide of your circumstances, and I believe that you would be able to spend time together with your family, albeit, without securing a residence visa in the process.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that if your son does end up spending seven years in Hong Kong, all total, and converts his status from a sponsored employment visa through to permanent residency, he will be able to sponsor you and you will be able to come as dependents and be able to take advantage of all the benefits that Hong Kong has to offer for all residents, including access to medical facilities and services.

I hope that helps.

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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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