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Lame Excuses Won’t Cut It If You’re Caught Working in Hong Kong Without an Employment Visa

October 10th, 2013

Posted in Employment Visas, Feature Article, Investment Visas, Musing, Refusals & Appeals, Special Programmes, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Visitor Visas /


If you’re working in Hong Kong  (paid, unpaid or temporarily transferred in) but do not have an employment visa sponsored by your current employer you are breaking the law and could be subject to 3 years imprisonment and/or up to a HKD350,000 fine.

The law is very clear in this regard.

However, I also hear all kinds of likely ‘get out of jail free’ stories bounded about if ImmD or an officer of the Labour Department discovers an illegal worker during a routine or other workplace inspection.

What is not so commonly understood is the way the law is crafted here.

If you are found working in the premises or workplace of an employer and you do not have the permission of the Director of Immigration to take up employment with that employer, the law imputes an employment relationship and so your goose is cooked – automatically.

Section 17N of the Immigration Ordinance reads as follows:

So, there’s no way of  talking your way out of it!

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

How do you go about changing your Hong Kong employment visa sponsorship down at Immigration Tower?

Hong Kong visas – the long stay visitor’s awkward predicament

The 7 things your employer needs to know when sponsoring your Hong Kong employment visa

Can you employ yourself by getting a Hong Kong business investment visa?

Brticham spills the beans on the Hong Kong Visa Centre’s biggest secret!


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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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