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Can I Study Then Get Married All Whilst Holding A Hong Kong Employment Visa Sponsored By A Company I No Longer Work For?

May 28th, 2024

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


Life in Hong Kong throws up many new opportunities and this question seeks to understand the implications for 7 years continuous residency in respect of an eventual right of abode application where an overall switch over in life plans sees a lady intending to relinquish her employment visa for a student or dependant visa

Hong Kong Employment Visa


I am a Canadian citizen living in HK. I have an employment visa and want to leave my job. My fiancee (Canadian citizen) has an employment visa and we will be married in 10 months.

1. Can I leave my job (my employment visa has been extended until 2014), stay in HK on my employment visa until the wedding, and then transfer my visa to a Dependent visa linked to my husband?

2. Will this 10 month gap of non-employment, (even though I have 2 valid years left on the employment visa) count as a break in the 7 year continuous living requirement for permanent residency? I will remain in HK.

3. Will a dependent visa still count towards permanent residency?

4. Does permanent residency need to come from only one type of visa, or can it come from multiple visas?

5. Is there any benefit to having an employment visa over a dependent visa for permanent residency or privileges as a HK resident?

6. Can I attend a HK based university under the employment visa or must I change the visa to a student visa?

7. Will the time between the date of resignation and the beginning of my student visa (if I choose to do this, possibly 4-6 months) break the continuous living requirement for permanent residency?


I really love it when questions like this are laid out so logically and sequentially because I can just get to the height of the question without worrying too much about the facts to ensure that my advice is as accurate as it can be. So, cracking on number one question, the answer is yes. The moment you stop working for your current employer, your ability to continue to work in Hong Kong ceases at the point of your employment termination, but the privilege to resign continues on.

So, as long as in that time you’re maintaining all the vestiges of settlement in Hong Kong, then for all practical purposes the fact that you are not going to be working whilst you have an employment visa with a limited stay that’s still valid should not break your continuity of residence, specifically or particularly if you’re going to be preparing for nuptials in that time.

So, yes, you can transfer from employment visa to a dependent visa and expect that it’s not going to break the continuity of residence, which effectively answers your second question, as long as, as I said, you can show that all throughout this time you have been continuingly engaged in activities that can be said to suggest that you are settled in Hong Kong, and, as I said, preparing for your nuptials to a Hong Kong resident is certainly good evidence of this. So, yes, you’ll be fine in that regard.

The time spent as a dependent visa holder will definitely count towards permanent residency, so long as you’re going from your employment visa into your dependent visa back to back any state of administrative flux in relation to your change of immigration status should not preclude you from qualifying/having that time qualify under the seven year rule.

In reply to your question four – effectively you need a residence visa, and that residence visa can be reflected in any kind of visa other than visitor or indeed any of the other categories, such as a foreign domestic helper or if you’ve been admitted under the supplementary labour scheme. People admitted under these programmes do not have the privilege of being able to count time spent as a whole holder of that type of visa for the purposes of continuous ordinary residence. So, yeah, going from one employment visa to a dependent visa is not going to be a problem for you.

I think I’ve answered the question five – if there’s any benefit in having employment visa or the dependent visa for permanent residence privileges of Hong Kong resident. No, it doesn’t make any difference. It’s all about the act of settlement.

In reply to your question number 6 – Well, under the employment visa, you’re entitled to join in a part time course of study. If it’s your intention to engage in a full time course of study, then you need to relinquish your employment visa and change to a student visa. So for all practical purposes, in your circumstances, time spent as a student, which would then subsequently adjust to dependent (once you’ve got the marriage to your fiance out of the way) all of that will count as good time for ordinary residence purposes when it comes to your right of abode application.

Subsequently, and finally, the answer to your last question is again no. As long as you can show that you’re engaged in the act of settlement or continuing engagement in the act of settlement throughout all of this time, then it will not break your continuous ordinary residence for the purposes of a right of abode application.

Problems only ever come into play with breaking continuous ordinary residence, if you effectively relinquish your residence visa status and don’t do anything about reinvoking it or reinstating it, I should say within a very quick period of time after it’s expired. But if you’ve got continuous back to back residence visas throughout all of this time, and the ordinary pattern of your life suggests that you have been settled in Hong Kong throughout all of this time and in fact, any absences from Hong Kong during this time have been of a nearly temporary nature, as evidenced by what you leave behind to return back to at the end of your temporary sojourn abroad. And at the time that you make your application for permanent residency, you can show that you’ve got back to back tenancy agreements or you’ve got residential accommodation arrangements in place, for example, such that you bought your own property. And you can show that as long as you can show that you’ve got your tax returns all in good order and that, for all practical purposes, you’ve got an obvious manifest pattern of normal continuous ornament residence in Hong Kong throughout those seven years. The plans as you set them out for me in your list of seven questions suggest that you won’t have any problems at all when it comes time to making your application proponent identity card.

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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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