The Immigration Department of Hong Kong has announced a series of “enhancement measures” to be launched sometime in the second quarter of 2015, with the aim of attracting more high-quality foreign professionals and entrepreneurs to Hong Kong.

Among other changes, the duration of stay arrangements will be relaxed and top tier entrants will be able to change jobs without prior approval.

Extended Duration of Stay

For entrants under the General Employment Policy (GEP), the admission scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP), and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS, see below), the initial duration of stay upon entry and subsequent extensions of stay will be relaxed.

The initial stay of successful applicants under the GEP, ASMTP, or QMAS will be extended from one year to two years or in accordance with the duration of the employment contract, whichever is shorter.

The duration of extensions of stay will also be extended from two years to three years, and then to another three years. This way, the foreign national staying in Hong Kong for the maximum eight years will only need to extend their stay twice, rather than three times as required previously.

Top Tier Entrants

A newly-defined top tier of entrants may be granted a six-year extension of stay after their initial stay of two years. Moreover, a top tier entrant will have the right to change their job while in Hong Kong without prior permission from the Director of Immigration, and will need only to notify the immigration department of the change.

Who Qualifies as a Top Tier Entrant?

A candidate for extension of stay under the GEP, ASMTP, or QMAS General Points test (GPT) may qualify as a top-tier entrant if they have a provable income for salaries tax of not less than HK$2 million in the previous year of assessment.

Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)

Highly skilled or talented entrants under the General Points Test (GPT) will also qualify for the extended duration of stay rules, while high achievers under the Achievement-Based Points test (APT) may be granted eight years of stay upon entry.

There will also be bonus points awarded under the GPT for outstanding academic background and international work experience.

Entrepreneurs

An applicant who wishes to establish or join in a start-up business will soon be able to submit an application. The application may be favourably considered if the start-up business concerned is supported by a government-backed programme and the applicant is the proprietor or partner of the start-up company.

Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents (ASSG)

This new pilot scheme is to be launched in the second quarter of 2015. Applicants who are the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents from overseas may apply for entry into Hong Kong under ASSG. There is no sector or quota restriction and no job offer is required upon entry. Key requirements include proficiency in written and spoken Chinese, and good education, qualifications, or work experience.

Action Items

  • Applicants for initial stay or extension should discuss with their immigration provider the possibility of waiting to apply until after the enhancement measures have come into force in the second quarter of 2015.

Please note that this is general information only and not intended as advice on a specific matter. Please feel free to contact Fakhoury Global Immigration directly with questions exclusive to your situation. This news alert may have been prepared using information from Peregrine Immigration Management, which is licensed to Fakhoury Global Immigration.