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Can I Employ Myself by Getting a Hong Kong Business Investment Visa?

August 22nd, 2022

Posted in Employment Visas, Investment Visas, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Your Question Answered /


This is a typical question about what is really a Hong Kong business investment visa application – but most often people don’t know, understandably enough, how to couch it…


First Published April 21, 2012




I’m interested in getting HK residence permit (working visa). Please advise what’s the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to do it.

My idea is to register Hong Kong based company and who will hire myself as a director.

Am I able to be self-employed expat in HK or it’s wise to use nominee shareholder services?

What are the minimal salary criteria in my case?

How long will it take?”


I’m afraid there is no easy, fast or cheap way to secure Hong Kong residency on the basis you are mooting. Please find the following collection of resources covering this subject:

One man businesses

Idea of self-sponsorship and use of nominees.

Newcomer’s guide to employment visas in Hong Kong

Please also see the Investment Visa Information sheet on the Hong Kong Visa Handbook.

And this Case Study which speaks to one businesses and how we eventually got their visas approved.


“Many thanks for your prompt reply, useful links and awesome infographics. It’s getting much more clear now.

Well, I’m definitely not planning to invest HK$10M in the next some yeas to get an Investments visa. Because I’m just not able to do this.

You’re saying that it’s not a good idea to use nominee shareholders because HK immigration authorities might discover this fact and it will take a lot of efforts to approve this new company as a valid sponsor.

So for now it seems (please correct me if I’m not right) that cheapest and easiest way to get HK RP for me is to:

– find a local sponsor, private person, or

– get a job in an existing company

Regarding sponsor, I have a friend in HK who is probably able to be my sponsor (using my own funds).

But getting a job seems to be an easiest solution so far.

I believe there are some companies known to the HKID that you might also know who are stable enough and can hire me as employee and start paying me salary (using my own funds). I hope that you can recommend me this kind of company, probably one of your customers can help me.

I’m well known in my industry (internet technology) as a noted professional (proper references from worldwide known companies could be provided) so I assume that there is a chance for me to be be admitted as qualified migrant.

As an example, my Italian residence permit is based on ‘high skilled migrants’ immigration program, so most of the documents confirming my skills are ok and we can try use them in future in HK.

Please let me know if I understand everything in a proper way and we can proceed somehow.”


Unless you have a pre-existing consulting business overseas which you intend to ‘relocate’ to Hong Kong and support that relocation with resources to pass the investment visa approvability test (as detailed on the Visa Information PDF I sent you previously) the only option will be for you to secure a genuine job  offer in Hong Kong from an independent third party employer and in the context of that job offer pass the employment visa approvability test as detailed here.

There is no option of having a Hong Kong resident,  in his private capacity, of sponsoring you for residence permissions in Hong Kong unless you are legal family.

You can find information on the Quality Migrant Scheme here. In my experience, unless you have at least 125 points, you’re unlikely to get in the running for an eventual approval – but you will never know if you don’t try.

One final point.

What you are proposing about using your own funds to contrive an employment would involve you making misrepresentations to the Hong Kong Immigration Department on the part of the ‘employer’, yourself and my firm.

This is illegal and neither my firm nor I will play any part in such a scheme and I urge you to readjust your expectations as to how to go about becoming a lawful Hong Kong resident.

As I have stated, there is no easy, fast or cheap way to secure residence in the HKSAR. There only the legal way.

I trust this advice guides you accordingly.

More Stuff You Might Find Useful

10 Must Have resources for any Hong Kong investment visa application

Is it actually getting harder to get a Hong Kong investment visa application approved?

I have a socially advantageous yet modestly capitalised business plan – can I get an investment visa for Hong Kong?

Why internet forums are a cr@p source of Hong Kong visa and immigration advice

But Stephen, how do you make any money if you give away all of your Hong Kong visa expertise away for free?


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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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