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Does Volunteering for a Good Cause Represent Unpaid Work Which Requires the Specific Permission of the Hong Kong Director of Immigration?

August 15th, 2017

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


The law here is clear – work, paid or unpaid requires the permission of the Hong Kong Director of Immigration – but what about charity and volunteering – do you still need to get the express permission of ImmD?


Dear Stephen

I run an NGO.   We rely on volunteers from the community in order to achieve our objectives.

We are aware that certain groups, including visitors, domestic helpers and those on employment visa are not allowed to do any work / work for anyone other than the named employer and this includes unpaid work.

1. Do you have any insights into the definition of “unpaid work” ?  (e.g. If my mum visits and walks my dog, is it unpaid work?)

2. If someone is volunteering with an NGO, is the onus on the NGO to check that they have the right to volunteer?

3. Are you aware of anyone being prosecuted for doing volunteer work, or NGOs being investigated / prosecuted for this?

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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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