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Hong Kong Chef Visas – Managing the Two Week Rule & Applying For a Change of Employer

March 30th, 2015

Posted in Employment Visas, Musing, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza /


Hong Kong chef visas – special rules apply…


As a ‘special category’ occupation, chefs who hold Hong Kong employment visas must expressly notify the Immigration Department when they leave their job and must leave Hong Kong within 2 weeks of the employment termination date.

This rule is imposed by ImmD on chefs due to the ‘high risk’ potential for chefs  to job hop and the prospect of them taking up unauthorised employment in between employment visa approvals.

In essence, ImmD tend to keep foreign nationals chefs on somewhat of a short leash!

If the chef wishes to work for a different employer in Hong Kong, he must apply for a whole new entry employment visa – after a formal employment termination notification process has been followed at ImmD within 14 days of the date of employment termination.

In this regard, the chef (or a representative) should bring the following documents to 5/F Immigration Tower, notifying the Immigration Department that he has left his job:

  1. Copy of the chef’s HKID Card.
  2. Copy of the chef’s passport bio details page & current visa label.
  3. A letter to the Immigration Department, signed by the chef, including the information on the (i) termination date of employment, (ii) sponsor name, (iii) chef’s HKID card number & (iv) chef’s name.
  4. The employment termination letter from the sponsoring employer.

Moreover, people holding Hong Kong chef visas cannot change their employer.

Instead, after completing the employment termination notification process essayed above, they must leave Hong Kong within 14 days of their employment termination date.

Normally, therefore, if a chef wishes to change employer they must:

A – Complete processes (1)-(4) above, then

B – Take the 11 pm ferry to Macau on the 14th day after their employment ceased, then

C – Return to Hong Kong (as a visitor) on the 1 am ferry on the 15th day after their employment ceased, then

D – Make a completely new employment visa application for a Hong Kong chef visa on the 24/F of ImmD Tower (normally processing criteria and application time lines – 4-6 weeks p apply).

It normally takes ImmD 2-3 weeks to internally complete the employment termination formalities so in this regard the chef’s HKID card will still reflect the old limit of stay in the smartchip. However, formal notification by the chef has been given of the cessation of his employment and the 14 days will have passed so it is vital that the chef does NOT re-enter Hong Kong on his ID card again when he returns from Macau – this will be a breach of his conditions of stay and he will be in Hong Kong unlawfully.

So the chef MUST re-enter on his passport using the Visitor counters.

Needless to say, making a new application for a Hong Kong chef visa subsequently DOES NOT enable the chef to take up the work UNTIL the new visa application has been approved.

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

Is 50 days a particularly long time to process a Hong Kong working visa application?

Can you continue to work if you find yourself in the Hong Kong visa extension ‘Twilight Zone’?

Can a Hong Kong training visa be used as a stepping stone to a full employment visa?

New graduate management trainee position – can you get a Hong Kong employment visa to take up this role?

How do you go about changing your Hong Kong working visa sponsorship down at Immigration Tower?


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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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