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How Can My FDH Visa Holding Fiance Transition into A Dependant Visa With 6-12 Months to Go Before We Get Married?

October 11th, 2022

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


First Published June 27, 2018

Documenting proof of the genuine nature of your relationship is a condition precedent to the grant of a dependant visa with the burden of proof decreasing the longer you have been married. Consequently, the newer your relationship / marriage the greater the onus is on you to satisfy ImmD that this relationship does not exist just for visa purposes.


Dear Stephen,

I’m a 41 year old Brit who has been living here for 3.5 years. I am on an employment visa.

My Girlfriend is Indonesian, has been here for 1.5 years and is currently on a 2-year domestic helper contract (and visa) that will end in January 2019

We have been together for 6 months and plan to get married in the next 6-12 months.

The domestic helper visa/girlfriend scheme is obviously out of the question since it’s against the law and I’ve read somewhere else on your site not to get married for visa reasons.

But, knowing immigration’s obvious bias against Filipinos and Indonesians, what will I need to do in order to prove to immigration that we want to marry in order to be together here and start a family and also provide her a better situation? (I’m obviously looking to have her as a dependant).

Just to share our mindset on this: I consider myself a proud immigrant here and not an expat and my girlfriend and I consider that our right to live here is way too important to risk it by “gaming the system”.

My early and cautious assumptions on this, given immigration’s bias, is that they might ask for proofs of relationship so I’ve already started backing up our whatsapp conversations to cover that side of things.

What is the best way to prove to Immigration that we are marrying for the right reasons?

How do we do the right thing ?

Thanks in advance.


Thanks for your question.

The right kind of Visa, in this instance, is the Dependant Visa and the Dependant Visa will be available to you at the point of your fiancé having become your legal wife, through having completed the formalities of a legal marriage and at that time you will need to be able to satisfy three components to the provability test.

First, you’ll need to satisfy that you can put a roof over her head and put food on her table because the nature of the Visa is such that your fiancé will need to show that she’s in a sense dependent on you. So being a good provider is a vitally important part of that so you’ll need to show your proof of income and that you’ve got the financial resources to support you in your marriage.

So in addition to that, you’re going to have to show that your relationship is a genuine relationship that is, that you haven’t just sort of come together at the last minute to come try a situation so that one party can go on to secure a Dependant Visa. So the Immigration Department’s policy in relation to the proof of a general relationship is that, in actual fact, when you are in a loving committed lifelong relationship with a partner you generate a significant amount of evidence just through the normal pattern of your lives that can speak to the genuine nature of that relationship. So for example, have you had an engagement party? Are you planning an engagement party? Have you got the proof? Have you got any proof to show that that has occurred? What paperwork have you got? What photographs exist? In relation to rings, have you got the receipts for the engagement ring? Have you already purchased the wedding rings? If so, show the receipts to the Immigration Department. Another good proof of Social confirmation that your relationship is genuine is photographs with your respective families. E-mails going back over time between the two of you. Independent written confirmation of friends and other upstanding members of the community. All of these things in addition to you having a record of your Whatsapp conversations will go towards satisfying the Immigration Department that this relationship isn’t flash in the pan and hasn’t come together just for immigration purposes. That it is in fact a genuine, committed relationship that’s going to last your lifetimes.

Now bearing in mind that if she’s going to become your legal dependent, she’s going to need to acquire that status and she can make an application to adjust from foreign domestic helper through to temporary visits around to Dependant Visa while she’s in Hong Kong on the basis that she’s completing her contract. On the other hand, if after six months when her contract comes to an end you are trying to for her to remain in Hong Kong as a visitor until such time as you can complete the nuptials, I think you’ll find that the Immigration Department won’t play ball with that. They’ll give her a one time a two week only extension and then she’ll have to leave. She can then come back at any point in time as a visitor, but the questions begged as to, whether or not the Immigration Departments are going to allow the fact of your intending nuptials to be a good reason for her to remain in Hong Kong as a visitor until you actually completed your wedding formalities accordingly. So if you’re planning to marry twelve months down the road, anticipate that from month six through to month twelve after her current FDH contract has come to an end, you are going to struggle to be together on the basis that you have not yet gotten married. But if you do get married before her current limited stay expires as a Foreign Domestic Helper then you can put an application into, directly from Foreign Domestic Helper, temporarily through the Visitor into the Dependant Visa. So, just bear that in mind from a practical and logistics perspective.

And I just want to raise a point here in fairness and in defence of the Immigration Department because you do state on a couple of occasions that you believe that they are obviously biased against Filipinos and Indonesians. I think it’s important to appreciate that Foreign Domestic Helpers come to Hong Kong on a very strict set of conditions that are embodied in their Foreign Domestic Helper Visa contracts. Those terms and conditions were negotiated between the Filipino Government and the Hong Kong Government and the Indonesian Government and the Hong Kong Government as being the satisfactory set of arrangements to protect the interests of their nationals. And from an Immigration perspective, The Hong Kong Immigration perspective, they administer those international agreements in light of what’s being prescribed as  how the protections for these nationals should be afforded during their time in Hong Kong. And also the Immigration Department have to deal with hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and Indonesians in trying to find Domestic Helpers – It’s the single biggest part of their work world. So, when you understand the way the Filipino and Indonesian Foreign Domestic Helpers are here in Hong Kong and the legal arrangements that have been negotiated internationally for their protection and the fact that they are the largest single body of migrants that need to be administered on a regular basis, it’s easy to assume that the Immigration Department are biased against these nationals but they’re not. These nationals, in fact, are just part of a very large system that they have bought into and that system prescribes effectively what they can and what they cannot do for Immigration purposes.

So I do feel that we need to defend the Immigration Department in this respect because they come under a lot of flak for situations that are not of their own making at all and it is in this instance just the perception that there’s bias but there is no bias. The reality is it’s all governed by agreement both at the individual level and also at the international level.

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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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