Unless a person has the right of abode or right to land in Hong Kong, he/she requires a visa/entry permit to work, study, establish or join in any business, take up residence or to stay in the Hong Kong SAR as a visitor longer than the allowed visa-free period.
While each application is considered on its individual merits, an applicant should meet standard immigration requirements such as:
- holding a valid travel document with acceptable returnability to his/her country of residence or citizenship;
- be of clear criminal record and raise no security or criminal concerns to Hong Kong; and
- have no prospect of becoming a burden on Hong Kong.
It is important to note that the eligibility criteria may be subject to change from time to time and without prior notice.
Nationals of about 170 countries and territories are allowed visa-free visits to the Hong Kong SAR for periods ranging from 7 to 180 days. Short-term visitors can enter Hong Kong on a visitor visa to conduct business negotiations and sign contracts.
For nationals of countries where visa-free access is not granted, save for India, prior visa approval must be obtained. Nationals of India are required to successfully complete online pre-arrival registration before visiting Hong Kong for not more than 14 days visa-free.
What can a visitor do?
According to Reg 2(1) of the Immigration Regulations, a visitor shall not:
- take up any employment whether paid or unpaid;
- establish or join in any business; and
- become a student at a school, university or other educational institution.
A visitor may usually engage in the following business-related activities:
- concluding contracts or submitting tenders;
- examining or supervising the installation/packaging of goods or equipment;
- participating in exhibitions or trade fairs (except selling goods or supplying services direct to the general public, or constructing exhibition booths);
- settling compensation or other civil proceedings;
- participating in product orientation; and
- attending short-term seminars or other business meetings.
A visitor may also attend an event to deliver speech(es)/ presentation(s) subject to the following conditions being met:
- he/she will not be remunerated for speaking/presenting at the event (other than provision of accommodation, passage, meals, etc. relating to the event, or the reimbursement of such expenses);
- the duration of the whole event should be no longer than seven days; and
- he/she can only attend one such event to deliver speech(es)/presentation(s) during each period of permitted stay.
Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and to imprisonment for 2 years, as specified in Section 41 of the Immigration Ordinance. Imprisonment for 2 months is reasonably common in most cases.
Entry of PRC Nationals
Article 22(4) of the Basic Law of Hong Kong stipulates that, for entry, people from other parts of China must apply for approval. The provisions of this Article, in accordance with the Interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in 1999, mean that Mainland residents who wish to enter Hong Kong for whatever reason, must apply to the relevant authorities of their residential districts for approval according to national laws and administrative regulations, and must hold valid documents issued by the relevant authorities.
Holders of People’s Republic of China passports who are in transit through Hong Kong to and from another country or territory may be granted a stay of seven days on each landing without the prior need to obtain an entry permit, provided that normal immigration requirements are met, including possession of valid entry facilities for the destination and confirmed onward booking for the overseas journey.
Holders of foreign passports who are living in the Mainland may apply to enter Hong Kong for employment, training, study or residence. All applications will be considered under the existing immigration policy and individual merits of the case (which will be dealt with in a later article).
Macau permanent residents may visit Hong Kong entry permit-free for a period of not exceeding 180 days. Holders of Visit Permit for Residents of Macau SAR to the Hong Kong SAR who are Macau non-permanent residents or unable to produce proof of their Macau permanent resident status during arrival clearance may visit Hong Kong entry permit-free for up to 30 days on each landing. Holders of Macau SAR passports and holders of Macau SAR Travel Permits may transit Hong Kong for a stay up to 7 days entry permit-free to another country or region or from another country or region back to the Macau SAR provided that usual immigration requirements are met, including possession of valid entry facilities for the destination and confirmed onward booking for the overseas journey. Visa/entry permit is not required for a visit not exceeding 90 days for holders of Portuguese passports.
Chinese residents of Taiwan should apply for an entry permit relating to their purpose of entry. For those who wish to visit Hong Kong, they may apply for online pre-arrival registration to visit Hong Kong, provided they were born in Taiwan (or born outside Taiwan but have been admitted to Hong Kong as Taiwan residents before) and are not in possession of any travel document issued by other authorities outside Taiwan (except the “Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents”, commonly known as “台胞証”, and an entry permit issued by the Immigration Department). Taiwan residents holding a valid “Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents” may enter Hong Kong as a visitor and stay for up to 30 days irrespective of whether they are transiting through Hong Kong to/from the Mainland or coming to Hong Kong for visit, provided normal immigration requirements are met.
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.