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Do You Need a Degree to Get a Hong Kong Work Visa?

January 6th, 2016

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


Do you need a Degree to get a Hong Kong work visa?

The short answer is no, not necessarily.

Having said that, having a degree certainly helps on the road to visa approval, especially if you have post graduate qualifications as well.

The Hong Kong employment visa approvability test calls for special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong. In the case of the employment visa specifically, the test is silent as to the specific need for a tertiary level qualification.

So this is basically good news, right?

In one sense it is, for sure.

Thankfully the Hong Kong Immigration Department, pragmatic as ever, recognise that a diverse, highly dynamic economy is actually comprised of skills sets from all walks of life.

To their eternal credit, ImmD have never fallen into the trap of assuming that an education at the University of Life carries no value, unlike so many other national immigration agencies amongst developed economies.

This is especially true in the case of inter-company transferees.

Wanchai’s finest do not often second guess the motivations of international businesses seeking to transfer their employees from one country to another, not least to Hong Kong, so these employments very rarely fail due to want of visa consents from  Hong Kong’s Director of Immigration (unless you are a ‘Bookseller’ – but that’s another story).

That said, a handful of O levels, a High School graduate certificate or the international baccalaureate diploma is not really going to cut the mustard if you do not have at least several years of direct experience in the line of work that is bringing you to Immigration Tower seeking an employment visa to further your career in the HKSAR.

Having said aaaaaaaall that, there certainly have been instances down the years where we have successfully secured employment visa permissions for clients who had only the barest of qualifications (the example of our 18 year old eel farmer and a 32 year old Samoan “water feature rock and boulder placement technician” spring immediately mind).

In the final analysis, the Immigration Department are on the look-out for genuine human capital.

They recognise that Hong Kong is competing for the brightest and best from amongst the world’s developed economies and if we are not alert to talent when it arrives on our doorstep, irrespective of letters after placed after a name, we will miss out and lose ground competitively.

Of course, the protection of local jobs is a key consideration in the application of the employment visa approvability test, but if the Hong Kong ID can make it work, they usually will.

See What Hadley Says… about this.

More Stuff to Help You Along

How to get a Hong Kong working visa – automatically, with no questions asked!

Your employer must help you get your Hong Kong employment visa

If I didn’t graduate from university will it stop me from getting a Hong Kong employment visa?

How a Hong Kong employment visa application can go completely wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing!

An open invitation to request specific Hong Kong visa & immigration related content


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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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