visa application hong kong

Guess what? You might be surprised to visa application hong kong learn that, for an entrepreneurial driven economy such as Hong Kong’s, there are only comparatively few investment visas granted annually.

The 200-300 approvals recorded are very modest matched against the 25,000 work visas issued yearly and indeed, the 1,300 Capital Investment visas which were granted in 2010. As the HKID don’t provide stats on the amount of applications received, it does appear safe to say that the low number of investment visa approvals is less a suggestion of the interest of foreign nationals who want to create or join in a business in thus part of China but more a reflection of the reality that getting an investment visa approved is among the most challenging of all the HKSAR visa processes.

Even in spite of this, foreign nationals arrive in droves to take part in the wonderful business opportunities which the city has to offer and, naturally enough, the Director of Immigration doesn’t deter applications from folks to start up new, or join in existing, firms in the HKSAR. The most significant difference between the 2 sorts of visa lies in the character of the approvability tests and the basic issue of whether the candidate has got value at risk in the firm wanting to deploy his work in their business operations. Hence the HKID look closely at the shareholding structure of the company that applicant will be engaged in and, as a general guide, anything greater than a 10-15% stock holing position in the hands of the visa applicant will steer the HKID toward the applying of the more burdensome business investment visa approvability test rather than the work visa approvability test.

Covering up the shareholding to attempt to find a way around this general rule is laden with difficulty as the Immigration Department will peer under each nook and cranny in an attempt to completely understand the business ownership arrangements. Consequently, the utilisation of nominees solely for immigration purposes isn’t advised. If the company is a totally new start up, a fully fledged plan for the business is mission-critical to visa approval. Hong Kong investment visas often take between four and six months for formal approval to eventuate (compared with the maximum 6-8 weeks for out and out work visas) and the explanation for this is to permit the new business to produce early commercial results and avail the chance for the HKID to appraise if the business plan is a practical one as measured by new ‘facts on the ground’ ensuing right from the tangible implementation of business activities.

Few Hong Kong investment visas are granted based merely on a paper plan; indeed such approvals are customarily limited to very well resourced organisation extending their operations into Hong Kong from overseas. But where the business-investor- visa-applicant is in-country, sometimes as a visitor, though occasionally intending to change visa status from employment, the HKID expect to see the business moving forward before they will authorize a business investment visa. This creates a Catch 22 situation: you can’t join in a business till the approval of the HKID is secured. You cannot secure the agreement of the HKID without showing contribution to Hong Kong. You cant show contribution to Hong Kong without joining in a business!

The Immigration Department is extremely well informed about this maze and are practical in their work -around.

Fundamentally, if you made an application for an investment visa they’ll close their eyes to the technical breach of conditions of stay implicit in running a brand new business before having had your investment visa approved. The danger lies in not having an application in the system.

So to provide yourself with protection from the danger of prosecution, you want to sanction the HKID to take an early view of your activities and sign up for your Hong Kong investment visa right at the outset, of your commercial endeavours, not later on after ‘its all moving forward’.

A graduate of the London School of Economics, Stephen started his first dedicated Hong Kong immigration practice, LL.B Consultancy, in Kowloon in 1993 straight out of law school. In 1996, Stephen wrote, then published, the first edition of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook on the internet – which went on to be the leading DIY guide to the Hong Kong visa and immigration process. Stephen is an acknowledged expert in all matters relating to Hong Kong immigration and for many years has delivered CPD programmes to the legal and accounting community of the HKSAR. Frequently invited to speak on the topic of Hong Kong visas, Stephen is widely sought after for commentary from the Hong Kong press, to deliver talks to business and HR organisations and appears regularly on Government owned RTHK Radio 3 answering visa and immigration questions live on air.

It came to my attention recently that a few travellers have had problems and issues getting visas for China. Everyone wants to visit the world’s most populated country so I’m here with my latest visa advice for China!! I’m heading to China again soon for my 6th visit and I want to explain an easy and simple way for you travellers to get your China Visa – it’s easy! All you need to do is… get yourself to HONG KONG!

In terms of defining a country, as far as I’m concerned Hong Kong is one. It has its own currency, flag, visa regulations and national football team. It was also British for a while, and that ended back in 1997. These days, lots of nationalities can get to Hong Kong without a Visa. You will get a stamp on arrival at the airport. If you arrive on a UK passport you can stay for 180 days no problem! A lot of nationalities also get a 90 day entry stamp – check with your embassy.

Hong Kong borders China, and there are about 5-6 different border entry points. I have passed through 4 of them in the last 12 months. But before you get there you will need a valid China Visa, unless you are Chinese or a nationality that doesn’t require one (possibly Cuba or other ‘Communist’ countries – check with your embassy).

There are literally hundreds of places in Hong Kong to get a China Visa and as far as I can tell, being in Hong Kong is by far and away the easiest and best way to get your visa for China, outside your home country, which as global nomads we are scarcely in.

So in Hong Kong… if you walk around Tsim Sha Tsui (particularly near the notorious Chung King Mansions on Nathan Road) people will just shout “China visa” at you and certainly they will sort you out very easily with a China Visa but most likely they will charge for the service and get you a single entry visa only. These guys that roam the streets of TST selling visas and the like are good if you need one quickly – make sure everything is valid when you’re with them – office, proper forms etc. (the form on the photo below is the front page of the current real China Visa Application). But you’re better to find an agency yourself, read on…
These days, I get double or multiple entry visas for China. But my first ever China Visa was a single entry, so do that for starters unless you are planning two trips. So where should I get the Visa done? Well as I mentioned there are countless agencies that do them in Hong Kong (and although it might be cheaper to go to the Embassy – DON’T). Use an agency. You’ll get your Visa easily, no problem, on time and can collect even after normal closing hours. They will even help you fill in the form and if you don’t have the things you need they will tell you what to do. These agencies often open all day Saturday, weekday nights and some even a half or part day Sunday. Yes, I know agencies charge a bit more and I’m a budget traveller but I also believe that “time is money” and these agencies are fast and helpful so they save you time. An agency I have used recently is and recommend is: China Travel Service (Hong Kong)

I recommend it – they have a lot of branches but believe me just turn up in Tsim Sha Tsui or Mong Kok and wander round the streets and you will see a place doing China Visas.

The link above contains all the information you will need, but I’ll shorten it for you here to make it easy, these are the things you need:

1. A valid passport with more than 6 months and 2 empty pages left in it

2. One passport photo

3. A completed Application Form, the key points are:

– They will ask for entrance point – always put Shenzhen as that way they know you are crossing the border on foot – which you will do if you go HK – China. I’ve always put Shenzhen. Thousands of tourists and business travellers pass the Hong Kong to Shenzhen border every day.

– They will ask for for expected date of travel – just make this up if you don’t know when you are heading – you will have three months (I think) from the date printed on the visa to enter. No big deal this question.

– There is a section for hotel/where you are staying. I normally just write a hotel name in the city I’m visiting on that trip, or write – staying with friends. On none of my 4 recent trips have I actually stayed in the place I wrote on the form. They never check. If they do then you will need to book a hostel or hotel online and print it to show them (I’ve never heard of this actually happening though).

– Do you have Medical Insurance? Just write ‘No’ in the box. Trust me!

– Type of Visa – I advise if this is your first time to get a SINGLE ENTRY. It’s no risk as there is a slight chance that they may not give you a DOUBLE ENTRY straight away. Once you have your single or double entries, next up apply for a multiple entry (I’m lucky at present that I have a valid HK ID card so a multiple entry is no problem)

4. Payment (this varies depending on nationality – a single entry can be between 350 – 500 Hong Kong Dollars (less than £40 or $50 US)

5. Attend in person to hand in the form and voila!!

You also have the option of collecting it in a rush in ONE working day (for an extra cost), 2-3 working days (extra cost) or just what I do – regular 4 – 7 working days (the normal price).

SO there you have it folks! It’s easy to get a China Visa in Hong Kong. What are you waiting for? Get out there and see it!! China is an amazing country and to be honest it’s one you should never neglect. I’ve been 6 times and counting! Here’s 3 top photo highlights so far to get you in the mood to do China!!

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