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You Accidentally Overstay Your Hong Kong Employment Visa Yet Need to Change Employer – What Happens Now?

February 8th, 2015

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


Accidentally overstay your Hong Kong employment visa?- What happens to you when  seek to change your employment visa sponsor but realise you have accidentally let your current visa expire without seeking an extension of stay?



Hi Stephen,

I ended my employment in Hong Kong at the beginning of January.

I looked for work and eventually found and got offered a job, still in Hong Kong, to start in March.

I thought everything was going well. I went in on the 1st of February to sort out the application for the work visa, and they sit me down…

They told me my previous work visa had expired on the 24th of January.

Now, this shocked me. In all the searching and transition to the new job I had completely forgotten to check my old visa.

I had come back after Christmas and assumed I was on a Visitor visa, or that my Employment visa hadn’t run out, because I was allowed back in after my return at Xmas.

I hadn’t checked. This is totally my fault and my mistake, I had completely forgotten.

My new company told me to go straight to Immigration, present myself, put in my new visa application with profuse apologies and explain myself.

I did that, they shouted at me threatening imprisonment.

I had to write a letter to the Director of Immigration explaining what happened.

I did all this, and afterwards the Officer said that was all for today and that they would send a letter to my company in 4-6 weeks.

They let me go with my passport and Hong Kong ID Card, and in my passport is a card with an application reference.

I have no idea what happens now.

They didn’t stamp my passport to allow me to leave the country, so I can’t go and return as a Visitor.

I am here with no visa, and I’m worried that if my work visa is denied, or I am stopped in the meantime, they will imprison me because I stayed here even longer.

No one at my new company is concerned, either because they don’t care or they don’t know. They are backing me and want me to work for them, but that’s it.

So, in your experience, what could happen now? What can I do to find out? How can I protect myself?

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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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