Hong Kong

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Visas for Hong Kong

Getting a Hong Kong visa as an expat can be a tricky business. After all, nobody likes having to fill out endless forms. Our guide provides a succinct overview of common options. We’ll help you to quickly find the right Hong Kong visa for your case, be it for a visit, work, or study.
People with a visitor visa can apply for an extension up to a week before it expires.

Student and Transit Visas

There are a number of well-known universities in Hong Kong. It is a popular destination for studying abroad. If you are planning to attend university there or to take part in an academic exchange, you need to obtain a student visa. For a successful application, you need to hand in the following:

  • the acceptance letter from the university of your choice
  • proof that you are able to pay the tuition fee and your living expenses during your stay

With a student visa, you are not allowed to work as a full-time employee. However, restrictions on part-time work and internships have recently been partially lifted. Internships must be related to your curriculum, and part-time jobs must be on campus and are limited to 20 hours per week during the academic year. In the summer months, there are no restrictions as to the number of hours you may work or the location of your employment. If your student visa is granted, your spouse as well as unmarried dependent children under the age of 18 can come with you. Your spouse is not allowed to take up any kind of paid work, however.

If you transfer directly by air and do not leave the airport transit area, you usually do not need a transit visa. There are a few exceptions to this rule for nationals of countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Angola, and others. Please check the Immigration Department list for further details.

The Visa Application Process

The necessary application forms for all types of visas described in our guide can be found on the website of Hong Kong’s Immigration Department. On the same website, you will also find extensive information on all the various sorts of visas available for Hong Kong, including a list of the documents required for your particular case.

Fill out the appropriate application form and attach all the required documents. If your documents are in a language other than English or Chinese, you need to provide a translation. Also, please remember that you need a valid travel document from your home country in order to obtain a visa for Hong Kong. So, it is high time to check the date when your passport expires.

You can submit your visa application either directly to the Hong Kong Immigration Department or through the nearest Chinese mission. If you are a foreign national and live on the Chinese Mainland, you can submit your visa application to the Immigration Division of the Office of the Hong Kong Government in Beijing.

Visa applications have to be mailed or handed in personally. Unfortunately, applications via email or fax will not be accepted. Alternatively, you can file your application through a local sponsor, for example, your prospective employer. Your application can take up to six weeks to process. However, keep in mind that your visa can only begin to be processed after you have handed in all relevant documents. Therefore, allow some extra time for the immigration authorities to request further documents from you.

Visa Extensions

You can usually apply for an extension of your stay before your visa expires. Make sure that you apply at least four weeks before the expiration date. Of course, if you only have a visitor visa for Hong Kong, it’s usually enough to request an extension seven days or more in advance.

For people who have a student visa, the Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates can become relevant. If you submit a request to stay in Hong Kong within half a year of your graduation, you have up to 12 months to look for a local job. Expats with an employment visa usually get extensions following a 2-2-3 year pattern. If their job contract runs out before that, their visa extension will be shortened accordingly.

Also, if you are planning on getting married in Hong Kong to a resident with a valid visa, you can apply for a dependent visa that is tied to your spouse’s.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.