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What Pathways To An Employment Visa Exist For A Fresh, Foreign University Graduate Arriving In Hong Kong Seeking Career Opportunities Here?

May 6th, 2024

Posted in Employment Visas, Special Programmes, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Your Question Answered /


Whilst the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates afford a clean pathway to working permission for foreign nationals freshly graduating from Hong Kong universities, the situation is very different if your degree is from overseas and you’re seeking to work in the HKSAR straight after university.

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Hi Stephen,

I would like to ask, I’m a fresh grad student in interior design from Australia. I am seeking an opportunity in Hong Kong.

I had a few companies that are willing to hire me here in Hong Kong, but the problem is that the employment visa / working permit is an issue for them.

I would like to tap your expertise in this situation.

What other alternatives exist to manage this immigration issue?


Naturally enough, Hong Kong, like any other jurisdiction that cares for its younger population and wants to afford the best possible opportunities for their graduates as they can. It is the position of the Immigration Department to not approve applications for employment visas from completely fresh graduates of foreign universities that come to Hong Kong looking for opportunities here; it’s hardly surprising because, you know, the vast majority of countries, as I said, would also implement the same policy to protect jobs for their new graduates too.

So if you do have a very strong commitment to pursuing a career opportunity in Hong Kong, you need to, in a sense, stop anticipating that there’s a simple sort solution available to you and start considering that you’re going to have to start making an investment in relation to Hong Kong in a way that you might not have anticipated until now. So just, you know, blue skying this and thinking about the way to bring about a possible positive outcome for you. One opportunity that might exist is if you find yourself a job offer from a company in Hong Kong that has an office in Australia where perhaps you could spend six months in Hong Kong on a training visa with the expectation that at the end of those six months you would then be sent back to the Australian arm of the group of companies. You would spend two years in Australia working on the ground for the same organisation and then at some stage after you have qualified as a professional for the purposes of the General Employment Policy under Hong Kong immigration rules, then be transferred back to Hong Kong to work for the Hong Kong arm of that business as a full time employee; in those circumstances you would qualify as a professional because you’d be a graduate and you would have had at least two years relevant working experience in your field assuming of course that you have undertaken duties of a supervisory and managerial nature during all of that time. So that’s one way to think about it.

Another way to think about it is well, why not further your education in Hong Kong and go on to get a master’s degree, spend one year studying in Hong Kong. You won’t be allowed to work during that time though, but spend one year studying, get yourself an advanced degree and then immediately take advantage of the Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates which will effectively see you move straight into lawful employability without the need to have a particular job offer at the point of converting your student visa into the one year fresh non-local graduate arrangements under the immigration arrangement for non-local graduates. So that’s another key way that you could get in.

If you come from a background of commerce and you can muster up the requisite finance and you’ve got a half decent business plan and a sufficient business acumen to think about going into business for yourself – quite a risky strategy given that you’re freshly out of university. But if you’ve got all those resources collected around you, you might think about starting a business in Hong Kong and securing the consent of the Immigration Department to join in that business there. You’d have to show that you’re in a position to make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong (but I’m not going to spend too much time talking about that because I’ve dealt with it ad nauseam elsewhere on this blog). So that’s the business investment visa.

And then finally, if you come from a particularly well heeled family and you can show that you’ve owned assets in your own name for at least two years to the tune of a minimum of HKD10 million, you could, make an application under the Capital Investment Entrance Scheme which would take six to eight months to finalise.

But at the end of that process, you would find yourself being lawfully employable in Hong Kong without any further questions asked.

So that would represent an expensive, albeit a quite realistic, chance of securing the outcome that you are looking for so that you can be in Hong Kong to carry on your career here.

So those are the options in a nutshell from 39,000ft. I hope you found this 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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