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Each year, large numbers of expats move to Hong Kong to pursue new career opportunities. Given its formidable international presence and its status as a former British colony, Hong Kong’s work-visa legislation is fairly liberal. There are a number of visa options for Hong Kong which allow the holder to take up employment, the most common being the General Employment Policy and Working Holiday Scheme visas.
General Employment Policy visas
Well-qualified and experienced expats wanting to work in Hong Kong will likely apply for a General Employment Policy (GEP) visa. No quota restrictions are in place for general employment permits, and they are not sector-specific.
These work permits are relatively easy to come by if expats can prove that they have a high level of education or possess a specialised skill set that will be of value to society and isn't readily available locally.
However, expats will need to have a confirmed offer of employment and an employer sponsor before applying for this type of work permit.
Working Holiday Scheme visas
Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) visas allow expats from certain countries aged between 18 and 30 to work in Hong Kong for up to 12 months (six months for Austrian nationals). There are annual quotas of Working Holiday Scheme visas for each of the eligible countries.
Participants of the Working Holiday Scheme are allowed to take up any kind of temporary employment, though they are obligated to change employers after three, six or 12 months depending on their nationality. Most nationalities are also permitted to study while in Hong Kong, though again, the number and length of courses that may be taken vary according to country of origin.
To be granted a WHS visa, expats are required to show that they have sufficient funds in their bank accounts to support themselves while in Hong Kong and show proof of valid medical insurance. They must also hold a return air ticket, or show that they have the financial means to purchase one.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
Are you an expat living in Hong Kong?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Hong Kong. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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