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Foreign Nationals Working In Hong Kong – Getting Married, Changing Visas & The Immigration Status Of Children Born Here Subsequently

March 2nd, 2024

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


So, what are the immigration implications of getting married and then having children in Hong Kong if you are a temporary resident presently holding an employment visa?

Working in Hong Kong



Can you please help with a few questions?

1. I am getting married next month and would like to cancel my employment visa through my employer, and change to a dependent visa through my spouse. I would like to remain with the same employer. Is that possible? Would I still require an employment contract with my office (same employer) or would I no longer need an employment contract.

2. If we are married in the US and have a US marriage license, how do I register that in Hong Kong?

3. If two US citizens, living in Hong Kong on employment visas, have their baby in Hong Kong, is that baby now a Hong Kong citizen, or does his/her status follow the visa status of the parents?


If you are an employment visa holder in Hong Kong and you then subsequently find yourself married to another employment visa holder in Hong Kong, it’s perfectly possible and indeed reasonable to adjust your immigration status from sponsored employment visa through to a dependent visa now sponsored by your Hong Kong resident spouse. Therefore, you are able to, as you would say, cancel your employment visa and do make that application on a change of category basis to become a dependent visa holder.

Moreover, the interesting thing about that is that once you become a dependent visa holder now sponsored by your spouse, you’re actually lawfully employable with any particular employer without needing to consider the immigration implications of taking up an alternate employment. So yes, without a doubt that’s probably a very good idea.

In terms of the employment contract, one would assume that if you are continuing to work for the same employer then while you go through the process of adjusting your status from sponsored employment through to legal dependence there will be no disruption to your employment relationship with your employer and so whatever term of employment that you had in place with them will continue notwithstanding any adjustment in your immigration status underlying your ability to do that work in Hong Kong in the first place. So the question of an employment contract is really moot in this instance. It really just doesn’t raise its head because having an employment contract per se doesn’t involve any part of the dependent visa application process.

Now, insofar as having a US marriage licence and registering it in Hong Kong, my understanding is the marriage licence is really just the state’s official permission for you to get married in the United States. Insofar as the marriage that results from you executing that marriage licence and undergoing the ceremony, you will then get a marriage certificate and it’s the marriage certificate that is the requisite proof of legal marriage for the purposes of you going on to get a dependent visa in Hong Kong. So there’s no formal requirement to register any marriage licence. Effectively you go off the US, you get married, you bring your marriage certificate back to Hong Kong with you and that forms the anchor of your application for independent visa subsequently.

Turning finally to part three of your question – no, there is no concept such that if you’re a temporary resident in Hong Kong and your child is born here automatically that child becomes a permanent resident of Hong Kong or indeed a Chinese national by virtue of birth. In large part as you’ve identified the child will effectively follow the temporary resident status of its parents. So if you’re both here as one is an employment visa holder and the other is a sponsored dependent visa holder, then the child will then become sponsored as for a dependent visa by the employment visa holding parent and effectively that status will remain the same until the child has been continuously an ordinarily resident in Hong Kong for a full seven years. And thereafter you can apply to have the child’s eligibility for a permanent identity card issued to it once the child is over the age of eleven and securing the right of abode in the process becoming a permanent resident. So no, if you’re both still temporary residents while your child is born in Hong Kong, your child will by operation of the wall be a temporary resident at the point of a child being granted dependent visa sponsored by the employment visa holding parent. Okay, I hope you find that useful.

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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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