Residence in Hong Kong

In September 2003, the Immigration Department ("Immigration Department") of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China ("Hong Kong") introduced the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme ("Scheme"). Prior to the introduction of the Scheme, individuals seeking residency in return for investment in Hong Kong had to rely upon a subset of the Employment Visa known as the Employment Visa Based upon Investment in Hong Kong (the "Business Investment Visa").

I. The Capital Investment Entrant Scheme

The Capital Investment Entrant Scheme was officially suspended on 15 January 2015. This page will be updated once more is known about next steps or alternative options.

II. Business investment visa

A. Criteria

Business Investment Visas are routinely granted to qualifying applicants and often are processed in approximately two to three months.

1. The approvability test - substantial benefit to the economy of Hong Kong as a whole

In its barest sense, the Business Investment Visa approvability test is often passed by virtue of being able to demonstrate to the Immigration Department that a suitable business vehicle will be created, local jobs will be created through implementation of the investment activities, that local vendors and suppliers will be utilized in the planned commercial activities, that the overall industry within which the investment activities are undertaken will be advantaged in some discernible way and that in the medium to long term the investment activities will result in the presence of a sound business entity.

This entry arrangement does not apply to: Chinese residents of the Mainland of China; and nationals of Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, Korea (Democratic People's Republic of), Nepal and Vietnam.

The Business Investment Visa has been in place for many years as one of several types of visas available to people seeking to reside in Hong Kong. A reading of the requirements clearly indicates that the objective of the Business Investment Visa is to encourage global investors to engage in business activities within and from Hong Kong. The Business Investment Visa is relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain.

B. Conditions of stay, application and fees

Upon issuance of the Business Investment Visa, the applicant and his dependants (spouse and unmarried dependant children under 18) will usually be granted a one year stay. The period of stay is usually extended thereafter for two years on the basis that the commercial endeavours justifying the extension continue to satisfy the approvability criteria of the business being of substantial benefit to the economy of Hong Kong as a whole. Others conditions which apply include, but are limited to, not committing any criminal offences, remaining engaged in the business and earning enough income as not to become an economic burden to Hong Kong.

C. Success of the business investment visa

The Business Investment Visa has served its purpose well for Hong Kong, even during 2003 when Hong Kong suffered dramatically due to SARS. The Immigration Department does not publish information that distinguishes between "employment" and "investment" visas, but the Director of the Immigration Department advised in 2002 that there are approximately 300 Business Investment Visas issued annually in Hong Kong and that number has remained steady for several years.

III. Other Schemes

Although there are quite a number of differences between the Scheme and the Investment Visa, the three most significant are the following:

  • General Employment Policy ( GEP) Professionals /Entrepreneur
  • Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
  • Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)

Although it is true that the applicant for the Investment Visa must demonstrate some proposed business activities and a certain level of education, these requirements are not too burdensome.

Simply stated, unless the applicant intends to be merely a passive investor in Hong Kong, the Business Investment Visa is an absolute bargain compared to the Scheme.

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