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How Can I Go From Being A Sponsored Hong Kong Employment Visa Holder To Working In My Own Business As I Wait Out The 7 Years To Permanent Residency Here?

April 10th, 2024

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


If you leave your job and want to start your own business in Hong Kong, what are the immigration implications of this if you are a temporary resident foreign national employee?

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Hi Stephen,

I am in a bit of a pickle, I am currently waiting for my PR and I have a visa extension til next year. I have quit my job with my employer as they are unable to pay me the rate I need and that was on the contract due to the economic downturn.

I want to set up my own company and be a service provider for both local and international organisations in Hong Kong as well as grow my own consulting practice.

How do I do this ?

Though I quit my job am I still OK to be in Hong Kong until I set up my business and have it up and running?



This is quite a common scenario in actual fact, and whilst your question is silent as to when exactly the seven-year anniversary arises in your instance, the immigration situation that you’re facing is pretty routine and quite constant, so it’s relatively straightforward for me to address this question for you.

When you have an employment visa sponsored by a third party employer – as you have in your situation, when you stop working for that employer, of your two privileges the privilege to work ceases, but your privilege to reside continues and that’s the state of affairs until your current limit of stay expires, whereupon you’re expected to leave Hong Kong.

Or as I surmise in your situation – prior to that, you will have been continuously not a resident here for seven years and therefore you’ll be making an application for the right of abode. Therefore, questions begged as to if you do intend to start your own business prior to the seven-year anniversary and you’ve already stopped working for your current employer is it lawful for you to join in that business while at this time the only privilege that you have in relation to your continuing immigration status here is the privilege to reside, and naturally enough, the answer is no, you’re not allowed to join in a business and you’re not allowed to start a business without the consent of the director of immigration first. So effectively, what you need to do is to make an application to the Immigration Department to adjust your status from sponsored employment visa through to business investment. And, as I’ve detailed elsewhere on the blog, so I don’t intend to labour it too much here, the approvability test in your situation for that investment visa is that you need to show that you can make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong. And in the context of the business that you’re putting together, ostensibly you need to show that it has the possibility and the very real potential for the creation of local jobs, that it’s going to be home in suitable business premises, you’ve got the requisite levels of cash to finance your business so that it stands a reasonably good chance of becoming a solidly entrenched commercial enterprise and all manner of other resources that you’d normally have around you in determining to move ahead with your application to start the business in the first place. All of those things the Immigration Department take into positive consideration when assessing your ability to make, as I say, a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong. So that’s really how it all sits. In a nutshell, don’t start the business until you’ve made the application of change of visa category to the 5th floor of Immigration Department (as you’re a current resident) using form ID999A and sponsorship form ID999B, along with ID91 if you’ve got less than six months remaining on your current limit of stay.

I hope you found this 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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