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Will A Criminal Record For Shoplifting Compromise My Immediate And Long Term Plans For Residence In Hong Kong?

October 18th, 2023

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


Criminal Record For Shoplifting – Declaration Now Needed

– Updated  October 18, 2023 –

In recent weeks, the government declared that various immigration programmes in Hong Kong would be modified, requiring applicants to declare their criminal record status before obtaining an entry visa (and not just those for employment).

Starting  June 19 2023, all applicants for these programs will now have to disclose any criminal convictions during their application. This rounded up the arrangements that came into force in February for just some of the visa types.

This change follows the controversy surrounding He Jiakui, a Chinese scientist who was granted a visa under the Top Talent Pass Scheme despite his previous criminal record.

Criminal Record For Shoplifting – Spent Convictions?

Of course, the million-dollar question right now is will the existence of a prior criminal conviction automatically disqualify an applicant? If not, what is the threshold? Will ‘spent’ convictions need to be disclosed?

The indiscretions of youth can come back and haunt you in later years and in this question, a criminal record for shoplifting quite some time ago is on the mind of an intending foreign national resident of Hong Kong …


I am very keen in settling down in Hong Kong in the long-term future. And I hope to start off by studying as a student in Hong Kong, then applying for work under the ‘Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates‘ (IANG scheme).

However, I have a problem. I have a conviction for shoplifting, committed around 6 years ago. So I need to ask?

Will a Criminal Record for Shoplifting Compromise My Immediate and Long Term Plans for Residence in Hong Kong?

I hope to find out from you, if that would be a bar to obtaining a work visa under the ‘IANG’ scheme?

Even if I am allowed to come to HK under a study visa, I am concerned that the Hong Kong Immigration Dept would conduct a background check on me from my home country – will they do that? (My criminal conviction back home has since been rendered spent as I have not committed any more offences).

And will they request a Police Clearance Certificate from my home country for a work visa, like they require of applicants under the ‘Quality Migrant Admission Scheme‘?

 Lastly, I hope to be able to gain the right of abode after being in residence in Hong Kong for 7 years. At that point of applying for ‘right of abode’, do I have to disclose this past conviction – because I noticed that the application form for ‘right of abode’ does not question about past convictions?

And when applying for the ‘right of abode’, do I have to produce a certificate of police clearance from my home country too?

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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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