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Time Spent Outside of Hong Kong With Work – the Impact on Your Right of Abode After 7 Years

August 14th, 2012

Posted in 60 Second Snapshot, Employment Visas, Long Stay & PR, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza /


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You, like many foreign nationals working in Hong Kong, may quickly adopt the place as your long term home and, naturally enough, will be keen to maintain your residence status here to allow you, subsequently, to go on to secure the Right of Abode.

So the question is begged as to what you can do if your Hong Kong employer wants to transfer you outside of Hong Kong to work for them in another country, taking your family with you, for the length of that overseas assignment?

How will this impact on your eligibility for permanent residency in Hong Kong in due course?

The test for the right of abode is that you need to have been continuously and ordinarily resident in Hong Kong for at least 7 years and need to show that you have taken concrete steps to making Hong Kong your only place of permanent residence. In short, you need to satisfy the Immigration Department that you have settled in Hong Kong.

So, the solution to your problem where you’re being transferred overseas by your employer is to anticipate that any absences from Hong Kong during the requisite 7 years are of a merely temporary nature – as evidenced by what you leave behind to return back to once the assignment outside of Hong Kong is complete.

In this regard, then, you can consider the following factors as relevant in being able to show your ‘continuity of residence’ in Hong Kong all throughout your time abroad, effectively demonstrating to the HKID at the time you make your application for a permanent identity card, that the time spent overseas on your assignment was actually just temporary, even if protracted:

- Continuation of your employment contract in Hong Kong amended to state your place of work has merely been adjusted to another location.

- Maintenance of you and your family’s Hong Kong visa permissions throughout.

- A fixed term overseas deployment with a mandated return to the HKSAR at the end of that term – and actually returning to Hong Kong at that time.

- Maintaining all the vestiges of your life in Hong Kong while you are overseas – bank accounts, club memberships, temporary storage arrangements in respect of your personal and household effects and the like.

- A well documented portfolio of information and paperwork that works to prove that your deployment overseas is in fact merely temporary and is a natural consequence of the role/work you have been performing for your Hong Kong employer.

If any of this proves to be impossible, you may need to look at the possibility of your spouse and family remaining behind in Hong Kong under an immigration status of their own, with you securing a dependant visa under the sponsorship of your spouse and not in fact taking your family with you but commuting back to them as often as you can during your time spent deployed overseas. Not an ideal arrangement but one which is available to help you achieve your long terms residence objectives for the HKSAR.

More Stuff to Help You Along

Hong Kong right of abode applications – consider your strategy and plan early

Will a break in continuous employment mean a break in continuous residence for the purposes of a right of abode application in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong right of abode applications – arguing away missing periods of residence


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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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