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What Visa Options Exist Where A Couple Have Met On-Line & They Wish To Live Together In Hong Kong?

April 6th, 2024

Posted in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Investment Visas, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Visitor Visas, Your Question Answered /


So, what would the Hong Kong Immigration Department make of a relationship forged via the Internet?

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Hello, I’m resident in Peru,  South America.

I met a Hong Kong woman by chat; she lives in Hong Kong.

We have been planning for me to go there and stay, only problem is that she’s still legally married.

Which would be my best option to get a permanent visa there so that we can live together in Hong Kong?

Get a job?  Can I be her dependant?

If she gets a divorce I can marry her and get the visa?

Any help or article you point me to read will be a big help.

I have been looking for an answer for a long time and I can’t find it.



This is an excellent question and certainly reflects common practise of our times, so I’m really grateful to you for having raised it. The bottom line is that you’re going to struggle to secure any kind of residence status in Hong Kong on the strength of a relationship with your girlfriend for a number of different reasons.

Firstly, if you were in a position to marry this lady, which clearly you’re not because she’s presently married to somebody else, you would have to show to the Immigration Department to their satisfaction that your relationship is a genuine one, and that she would be able to sponsor you by way of financial capacity and also the ability to put a roof over your head.

Now just leaving aside the two challenges associated with food on the table and roof overhead, and we just look at the nature of your relationship with her, it’s very difficult if it’s been an Internet based relationship for you to show to the Immigration Department that, in fact, your relationship is genuine.

So one would assume that you’re going to have to come into Hong Kong on some of their immigration status first, pursue your relationship with your girlfriend, and at the same time look for other ways to remain in Hong Kong during the currency of that relationship maturing as it were, then clearly your girlfriend can finalise the divorce arrangements in respect of her present husband, and through the passage of that time it would become clear on all the facts that even though your relationship started by remote, subsequently the nature of how you spent your time together leading to a legal marriage, can be said to represent good evidence that your relationship is in fact genuine.

So there’s no possibility of the strength of your relationship with her today availing you of any kind of immigration privileges, as regards being resident in Hong Kong.

My second point to make is that there isn’t any permanent visa that you can pursue as such, really because under the basic law the only permanent immigration status that’s available is the right of abode which only accrues after you’ve been continuously a normal resident in Hong Kong for not less than seven years as a resident.

So whilst you may be able to secure an immigration status that’s commensurate with your rationale for being in Hong Kong other than the facts of your relationship with this lady effectively until seven years have accrued, you’re going to be a mere temporary resident in any event. So that kind of deals with the notion of a permanent visa so that you can spend time together.

Finally, then really you need to look to the other immigration state eye that, are available to foreign nationals that want to take up residence in Hong Kong, and you do need to have a rationale for being here, and that rationale then drives the nature of the immigration permissions that you get. I don’t propose that I labour the individual immigration state eye that you might want to consider because I’ll attach them to a couple of links at the bottom of this post so you can review that content there accordingly, albeit to say that the rationales are if you come into study, you need a student visa, if you’re coming to join a legal spouse, you need a dependent visa, which, as we’ve seen, doesn’t apply to you, if you’re coming to take up employment, you need an employment visa, if you’re coming into establish or join an existing business, you need a business investment visa, if, you are of particularly high talent, you could apply under the quality migrant admission scheme, and if you are a man of considerable means, then you could make an application under the capital investment entrance scheme. Of course, you could always come as a visitor and you’ll be granted a certain period of time upon arrival, and, in that regard, that’s probably your early bet to, progress the relationship with your girlfriend in the flesh, as it were.

If I may not be so direct to couch it in those terms but certainly arriving as a visitor, assessing facts on the ground, determining what your longer term immigration options are, is the way forward, I believe. Anyway, I wish you all the very best.

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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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