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I Lived In Hong Kong For 11 Years – And Have Been Gone For The Last 7 – Can I Still Get Permanent Residency?

February 17th, 2024

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


I Lived In Hong Kong For 11 Years – And Have Been Gone For The Last 7 – Can I Still Get Permanent Residency?

First Published July 11, 2018

Permanent Residency

It happens a lot more often than you might imagine. You’d think that the many early years in Hong Kong ought to count towards your right of abode but all too often disappointment is in the offing…


Thank you very much for this informative website! I hope you’ll be able to answer my question, I’m not sure if it’s a common scenario or not.

I was born in Singapore and I lived in Hong Kong from 1994 – 2005 (11 years) and moved when I was nearly 11 because of my father’s job, and it has now been 13 years since I left to go and live in Thailand.

My mother has a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card (and was working for an airline there) but I do not. I had a dependant visa endorsed in my passport at the time I left with my parents.

This usually wouldn’t be a problem after leaving Hong Kong, however, there are two education sponsorship programs that I would like to apply for in Hong Kong which require you to have a permanent HKID.

I have gone to the immigration office about three times in the past 7 years as we do go back quite often, and every time we ask an officer, he says “if you are living in Hong Kong, you can apply for permanent residency.”

Is this true?

Seeing as I have already clocked up 11 years in Hong Kong, all I am missing in the application form is the current residency card.

Does this mean that if I go to university in Hong Kong starting August this year, that I could get my residency card, and then with that, apply for my permanent residency?

The way I see it, although I have been away for a considerably long time, but I am coming back, so this would technically be my 11th year total living in Hong Kong (and I have proof of having been there for 7 years ‘ordinarily’ with my school records, etc.)

I hope my question was clear enough and thank you very much in advance!


This is a very interesting question and it does strike a chord with quite a number of people in Hong Kong who find themselves in your situation.

So, I’m grateful to you for having raised the question and hopefully, I can shed some light on the situation and how your present Immigration Service in Hong Kong is affected by your life circumstances.

Your mother is a permanent Hong Kong Identity Card holder and on the basis that you had been born in Hong Kong and your mother had been a permanent Identity Card holder at that time then at the point of your birth your eligibility for a permanent Identity Card would have been established and effectively in the wake of that there could have been a very good opportunity for you to continue to argue now, so many years later that you are a permanent resident of Hong Kong.

However, that’s some theoretical and hypothetical in this situation because you weren’t born in Hong Kong, you were born in Singapore. So consequently, your eligibility for permanent Identity Card wasn’t established at the time of your birth and consequently, it meant that the immigration status that was available to you when you came back to Hong Kong with your mother was that at of a dependant Visa and as you’ve stated in your question you held the dependant Visa all the way through to the age of 11 and then effectively you left Hong Kong.

Now the interesting thing is that after you had been in Hong Kong as a dependant Visa holder just after your seventh, possibly your eighth birthday, you could have (or your parents could have) made an application to have your eligibility for a permanent Identity Card verified at the age of 11 years of age on the strength that you had been ordinarily resident in Hong Kong with your parents for a minimum of seven years and at that point you would have effectively been in the driving seat for a permanent Identity Card.

Subsequently, once you got to the age of eleven years when the Identity Card is issued to you and had that been, if that had occurred in fact, then effectively at the age of eleven you would have had your Identity Card issued to you possibly before you left Hong Kong and then on the basis that you have been back in Hong Kong on at least one occasion every three years thereafter your permanent Identity Card state, your right of abode in fact would have been maintained and effectively the question that you’re asking today would have been answered in the affirmative.

However, unfortunately because you only held a dependant visa for the first eleven years of your life in Hong Kong, at the time that you left with your parents to go off to Thailand effectively you abandoned your continuous ordinary residence at that time and what that means is that when you come back to Hong Kong in the future you’re going to have to get a student visa and the first eleven years of your life in Hong Kong effectively would have been lost.

So, it’s unfortunate, it’s certainly not going to assist you with the sponsorship programs that you’re lining up to make an application for but if it is any kind of consolation effectively what will happen in terms of your life going forward is that you’ll come back to Hong Kong as a student.

One would assume that you’ll spend three years here as a student, you’ll graduate. You’ll be able to join the workforce straight away if you start working for a Hong Kong employer within six months of you having graduated from university because the immigration arrangements for non-local graduates give you those privileges.

So that is, that’s effectively  going to take you to three and a half years and one assumes that a three to a four-year working career in Hong Kong we’ll have seen you continuously non-ordinary residence in Hong Kong again for the requisite seven years and then you’ll be able to go on to secure the right of abode as an adult in your own right but unfortunately in light of the facts that we’ve got in your question at the moment, you’re not going to be able to secure the right of abode at this point in time.

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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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