With the aim of attracting talented people from Mainland China and the rest of the world to settle and work in Hong Kong, the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (“QMAS”) was introduced in 2006. The purpose of QMAS is to provide admissions criteria under which applicants can reside and work in Hong Kong without a prior offer of local employment.
QMAS includes two methods of assessment:
- a “general points test”, under which applicants are awarded points based on their education, age, working experience, language abilities, and family background, with a minimum pass mark of 80 points; and
• an “achievement-based test” for applicant such as Olympic medallists, Nobel laureates, or scientists and professionals with significant recognition in their field.
Who’s eligible for QMAS?
In order to secure entry under QMAS scheme, applicants must satisfy the basic pre-requisites, pass a points-based test and compete for quota allocation with other applicants. Under the scheme, a maximum of 1,000 applicants per year may be admitted into Hong Kong.
- Foreign nationals except nationals of Afghanistan, Albania, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, Korea, Nepal and Vietnam are eligible to apply for the Scheme.
- All applicants must satisfy all of the following pre-requisites:
- Age –18 years of age or above at the time of making the application
- Financial requirement –demonstrate that applicant are capable of supporting and accommodating himself / herself and any dependants without relying on public assistance in Hong Kong
- Good character – no criminal record or other records
- Language proficiency –proficient (i.e. both written and spoken) either in Chinese (Putonghua or Cantonese) or English
- Basic educational qualification –possess a good educational background. Normally it is preferable to possess an undergraduate degree from a recognised university. However, under special circumstances, documentary evidence of good technical qualifications, relevant professional abilities, achievements and experience will be considered.
- Applicants who satisfy the pre-requisites must also pass either of the General Points Test or Achievement-based Points Test.
The Immigration authorities will conduct a selection exercise for quota allocation on a quarterly basis. During the selection exercise applicants will be ranked according to their scores. High ranking applicants will be short-listed for further assessment, where factors such as the socio-economic needs of Hong Kong, the sectoral mix of candidates and other relevant factors, will be considered in order to allocate the available quota in each selection exercise.
“Approval-in-principle” allows applicants to enter Hong Kong on a visitor visa so that he / she can personally attend an interview and present originals of all documents submitted during the application to the Immigration Department for verification. Dependants are not required to attend an interview.
Once the Immigration authorities are satisfied that all statements made or information provided during the application are true and complete, formal approval is granted.
Successful applicants are allowed to bring their spouse and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18 to Hong Kong under the Dependant Visa scheme. The dependant’s length of stay is tied to the applicant’s length of stay in Hong Kong and dependant visa holders are free to take up employment or study in Hong Kong, as applicable.
QMAS visa renewal
Visas issued under the QMAS are usually valid for one year. Applicants who wish to extend their stay should file a renewal application at least four weeks before the limit of stay expires. Renewal application will be considered only if the following criteria is satisfied:
- General Points Test– applicant must demonstrate that he / she has taken steps to settle in Hong Kong by securing gainful employment or establishing a business within the one-year period; and
- Achievement-based Points Test– applicant must demonstrate that he / she is capable of continuing to support and accommodate himself / herself and any dependants.
While most applications for visa entry into Hong Kong are made under the GEP or ASMTP (or as a dependant under those schemes) – as discussed in our previous article “Employment and Investment Visas in Hong Kong” – the Immigration Department also operates a number of supplementary schemes intended to target and attract talented individuals to Hong Kong.
The Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents is designed to attract applications who are the second generation of emigrated Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents from overseas to return to work in Hong Kong. “Chinese national” means a person of Chinese nationality under the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China, as implemented under Article 18 of and Annex III to the Basic Law.
Under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG), non-local fresh graduates can apply to stay and work in Hong Kong without having to first secure an offer of employment. Non-fresh graduates (i.e. returning non-local graduates) who wish to return to work in Hong Kong are required to secure an offer of employment upon application.
A Training Visa is issued to foreign individuals who wish to enter Hong Kong in order to receive training from a bona fide well-established company for a maximum period of up to one year, in order to acquire special skills and knowledge not available in the applicant’s country/territory of domicile.
Hong Kong operates a reciprocal Working Holiday Scheme the purpose of which is to facilitate cultural and educational exchange between Hong Kong and the participating country with a view to strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two places. The scheme is open for nationals of countries that engage in reciprocal schemes and applies to individuals aged between 18 and 30. Although the main intention is holidaying, restricted / short-term work or study is permitted and rights and durations of stay vary depending on the nationality of the applicant. Working holiday visa are subject to annual quotas for nationals of each participating country.
Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS) is a three-year pilot scheme that provides a fast-track for eligible technology companies/institutes to admit non-local technology talent to undertake research and development. Eligible technology companies/institutes must first apply for quota. Once quota is granted by the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), a company/institute sponsor an eligible person’s visa within the six-month quota period.
Students admitted to certain private schools can obtain a Study Visa.
Our team at Hugill & Ip has extensive experience in dealing with Immigration issues – so if you need further advice on this subject, get in touch with us.
This article is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and readers should not regard this article as a substitute for detailed advice in individual instances.