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How Easy is it to Secure A Work Visa Issued Under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates on the Basis of Freelance Employment?

August 14th, 2022

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


Can you realistically expect to work for yourself if your employment permissions have been granted under IANG?


Hi Stephen, thanks a lot for answering the questions on this website.

I must say that all the information on is of immense value.

I would like to pose a question regarding the Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates (“IANG”) visa renewal.

Currently I am on an IANG visa which has been sponsored by my current employer.

I would like to know that shortly after the IANG visa has been granted (say few days or weeks after the approval), can I change my job or leave my job for whatever reason and start my own freelance consulting?

Is it really something permissible in the eyes of the immigration?

My second question is linked with my first one.

Let’s say if I leave my job and after leaving my job I cross the seven year mark, what impact would this have on my Right of Abode application?

I would really appreciate your help on this matter.

Thanks a lot.


To maintain your immigration status under the immigration arrangements for non-local graduates, each time you present yourself for an extension of stay, you need to have a valid employer and you need to be able to demonstrate to the Immigration Department that you’re being paid a compensation that’s broadly commensurate with market rates and that you are engaged in work that’s related in some way to your education and background.

Moreover, the sponsoring employer needs to be suitable and credible, all things considered. So, you can essentially get yourself an extension under immigration arrangements for non-local graduate sponsored by a current employer. Then you could cease working for that current employer and then conceptually, you could start to engage in your own freelance activities.

Whether or not the Immigration Department would deem your freelance activities to be sufficiently suitable at the time that you’re next IANG application came up for consideration, is another matter again, because the Immigration Department, in those circumstances, expect you to have established a sizeable business. Which for all practical purposes, means you need to pass the approvability test to show that you can make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong. And in that regard, I’d suggest that you read the information on our websites about the business investment visa, because it’s no small challenge to be able to secure an ongoing sponsorship in Hong Kong on the basis of your own, in a sense, freelance activities. So, that answers the first part of your question.

In so far as the second part of your question goes, let’s set the scene. For example, let’s says that you’ve been here under continuous residence visa permissions for six and a half years and that your current IANG Visa has just recently been extended and you’ve secured a one-year limit of stay, which is then going to take you conceptually to a full seven and a half years’ worth of continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong, holding back-to-back residence visas throughout all of this time. So the point of seven years, of course, you can make your application for the right of abode and at that point you have to show that you have been continuously and ordinarily resident in Hong Kong for those seven years.

There is no inquiry as to what you’re doing in relation to your existing employment. The Immigration Department will want to see that you do have a valid period of stay under employment status and they will typically not look for confirmation as to how you’re going to be spending your time under your 12 months of immigration arrangements for non-local graduates.

Therefore, conceptually, it might be that you can get to seven years by having extended your immigration arrangements for non-local graduates’ visa and then gone off and freelance for a few months before making the right of abode application. And because at the time that you get your right of abode application approved, all conditions will be lifted as to your continuing residence in Hong Kong, you would then typically not be called to account for any time that you spent under immigration arrangements for non-local graduates, once you were freelancing as such. So that’s the upshot of it.

And 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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