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Immigration Policy in Hong Kong – Foreign Investors Must Know

As an international business hub, Hong Kong’s immigration policy plays a very important role in attracting foreign investors and professionals into the country.

Hong Kong ranks 6th in the world for the least restrictive immigration laws, based on the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2008. Thanks to the country’s open and liberal immigration policies, Hong Kong has been successful over the years in ensuring sustainability in a global market which is becoming increasingly more competitive.

Immigration Policy in Hong Kong

Overview of Hong Kong’s Immigration Policy

Nationalities from all over the world call Hong Kong home. From Chinese, European, South Asian and even British nationalities, Hong Kong’s immigration policy is the one that is responsible for continuously drawing international investors and foreign professionals.

The 1840s saw the first wave of immigrants coming into Hong Kong from mainland China. This happened after Hong Kong was established as a free port by the British, which led to significant growth in the country’s population from that period until the 1860s. The second wave of immigrants from mainland China took place after World War II.

The Hong Kong Police Force governed all immigration-related matters up until the 1960s. in 1961, the Immigration Department was established as an independent body. The department was then responsible for controlling Hong Kong’s immigration matters.

Hong Kong’s immigration policy is a liberal one. This makes it easy for nationals from 17- countries and territories to travel into the country visa-free for anywhere from 7 to 180 days. The immigration policy also allows for short-term visitors to enter Hong Kong on visitor visas if they need to sign contracts or conduct business negotiations. As an international business hub, the Hong Kong government has seen to it that appropriate work visa provisions are made to anticipate the needs of businessmen and entrepreneurs.

The dependents of the foreigners intending to come to Hong Kong will be issued with visas which allow them to undertake almost any sort of employment in the country. However, the employment undertaken must be lawful.


Hong Kong’s Immigration Policies for Foreigners

The government of Hong Kong has introduced several policies to attract foreign investors and businesses into the country for company registration. Among these policies are:

  • General Employability Policy (GEP) – This policy is used to attract foreign professionals into Hong Kong. These professionals must possess the special skills and educational qualifications, knowledge or experience of value which is needed or not yet available in the country.
  • Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals – This policy is used to attract talented professionals from mainland China who possess the qualifications, educations and special skills which are needed or not yet available in Hong Kong. These professionals may come to Hong Kong to work via the Employment Visa, which is also referred to as the Employment for Professionals scheme.
  • Quality Migrant Admission Scheme – This Hong Kong immigration policy is used to attract skilled foreign talent into the country. It was introduced in 2006. Skilled foreign talent from mainland China or other countries may use this scheme to explore employment opportunities or business opportunities available in Hong Kong. However, to be eligible for this scheme, the applicant must meet the basic pre-requisites, pass the points based test system and complete a quota allocation with other applicants. Only 1000 applicants annually are accepted into the country through this scheme.
  • Entry for Investment Policy – This policy is used to attract foreign entrepreneurs into the country. This policy is suitable for those who want to relocate to Hong Kong to run and manage their business. The work permit called the Entrepreneur Visa Scheme will be issued. The main criteria to be eligible for this option is for the entrepreneur to prove that their business will make a significant contribution to the Hong Kong economy.