COVID-19 impact on immigration issues
On 31 December 2020 the Hong Kong Immigration Department announced new arrangements for Hong Kong non-permanent residents, who are currently outside Hong Kong, and whose visas will expire within 4 weeks or have already expired during the previous 12 months.
Under their previous arrangements, the Hong Kong Immigration Department required visa holders to apply for extensions of stay within 4 weeks of their visa expiry date. Part of the application process involved the applicant being physically present in Hong Kong and for an original passport to be submitted at the time of application. Applicants also needed to be physically present in Hong Kong to collect the new extended visa label since this was affixed to the passport by the Immigration Officer at the time of collection.
Due to the pandemic, if a visa holder:
- is outside Hong Kong;
- with limit of stay expiring within 4 weeks / having expired for less than 12 months; and
- is not able to return to Hong Kong to apply for extension of stay,
they may submit a duly completed application (using Form ID91) and provide this together with the required supporting documents and a letter setting out the details on their inability to return to Hong Kong.
If the applicants continue to meet the eligibility criteria under the relevant immigration policy / scheme and the Hong Kong Immigration Department is satisfied that the applicants’ circumstances are a continuation of their previous residence in Hong Kong, the Immigration Department may consider issuing the applicants with a visa / entry permit for their return to Hong Kong within the validity of that visa / entry permit.
These new arrangements do not apply to domestic helpers or imported workers.
No change to applications for Permanent Residency
The new arrangements only apply to applications for visa extensions. They do not apply to applications for Permanent Residency that still strictly requires applicants to be physically present in Hong Kong when submitting their applications, regardless of whether the application is by post or online.
Stay tuned for future updates!
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.