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How Does Time Spent Between Residence Visas Impact On Your Eligibility For The Right Of Abode In Hong Kong Subsequently?

June 10th, 2024

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


Does time spent ‘between’ residence impact on your eligibility for the Right of Abode in Hong Kong after 7 years ?

Right of Abode


I am a Canadian citizen living and working in Hong Kong for the last 4 years.

My employment has ended and I have not yet been able to obtain a new offer of employment in order to arrange for a change of sponsorship.

Since my authorization for stay expires on 4 January 2015, I anticipate I will need to exit and re-enter as a visitor in order to continue looking for employment.

With a mind towards eventually hopefully applying for PR status, am considering the possibility of registering for language lessons in a suitable program and applying for a student visa.

The provider has verified they can sponsor a student visa for a certain length of course.

I am still under my current apartment contract in Hong Kong.

My question is, if I can file the student visa application on or before the expiration date of the work visa, will that be sufficient to support a claim later to claim the time as ‘ordinarily resident‘ in Hong Kong until I can find other suitable employment?

What if the student visa application is filed within 2-3 weeks after the expiration of the employment visa?

Finally, will transitioning from employment, to student, back to employment visa be a liability in an eventual PR application, or will ImmD only look at the fact that the time in HKSAR has been covered by residence visas with only minor ‘visitor’ breaks in the middle while the paper work is being processed by Immigration Tower?

So, all things considered, does time spent ‘between’ residence visas like this impact on eligibility for the right of abode in Hong Kong allowing me to qualify for PR after all?

Thank you.


Yes, you’d be surprised that this question presents itself in many guises quite often, and the answer is actually quite favourable for you given your circumstances. The Immigration Departments are looking for settlement from an applicant for the Right of Abode after seven years, because the test for approval is continuous ordinary residence for a period of not less than seven years, where any absences from Hong Kong in that time have been of a merely temporary nature; and if you find yourself not having a residence visa, qualifying under the concept of ordinary residence for a state of what I’ve called administrative flux, where you essentially are spending time on a visitor visa rather than a formal residence visa, due to you essentially moving from one visa category to another as you organise the permissions of the Director to allow you to undertake new residence type activity here, that time spent during a state of administrative flux doesn’t break your notion of settlement as long as you’re physically in Hong Kong during that time, and from an immigration perspective, earnestly trying to bring about the circumstances that will allow you to continue to reside in Hong Kong.

So in your instance, if your employment visa is about to expire and you decide that you’re going to become a student, then as you transition from your employment visa to your student visa, holding a visitor visa in the interim, then the Immigration Department will not allow that to break your continuity of ordinary residence.

And similarly, when you finish being a student and go back to employment, as long as you’re physically in Hong Kong and you’re not abandoning your settlement, and you’re earnestly trying to bring about the circumstances that allow you to argue that you’ve been settled in Hong Kong, that the time spent on visitor status, as I say, moved from one status to another, resident status to another, doesn’t break your continuity as long as you’re clearly settled throughout all of that time.

So essentially you don’t really have any problems, I would say as long as you are not on visitor status, if that’s what you need to hold. While the circumstances present themselves for you to get your student visa or subsequently your employment visa, you’ll find that your continuity of ordinary residence at the seven year mark will not be broken.

So, the amount of time that you cite in your question, two to three weeks after your employment visa ends, before you get your student visa issued, that’s certainly not going to break your continuity of ordinary residence. In my experience, it’s usually no more than three or four months visit or status that presents itself as a problem.

So, if you find yourself with a visitor visa that is going to be sort of three knocking on four months old, I would be a bit circumspect about trying to get yourself a residence visa as soon as you possibly can. But otherwise, in the circumstances as you’ve described them in your question, I don’t believe you’re going to be breaking your, continuity.

And I hope that it all comes good for you in a good timeframe, so that you don’t have to worry about it too much later down the track when you make your application for the Right of Abode at seven years.

Okay. I hope you found 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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