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STARTING – My Business in Hong Kong

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Starting My Business in Hong Kong

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GOVERNMENT’S POLICY

One Country, Two Systems

 It is a fundamental state policy formulated by Deng Xiaoping to accomplish the peaceful reunification of China by resolving the sovereignty questions of Hong Kong and Macao, that have arrisen from a complicated historical background. Deng Xiaoping suggested that there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau could retain their own capitalist economic and political systems, while the rest of China uses the socialist system. Under the principle, each of the three regions could continue to have its own political system, legal, economic and financial affairs, including external relations with foreign countries. 

Positive non-interventionism policy

Much of Hong Kong’s business success is due to the laissez faire economy. Business in Hong Kong is market-driven in line with the territory’s free-market philosophy. The government has provided a low tax rate, an efficient infrastructure and allowed trade and industry to flourish with a minimum of intervention. In the 1980s, the HK government admitted, in the words of then Financial Secretary Philip Haddon-Cave (1984), that the government stance was one of ‘positive non-interventionism’ rather than laissez-faire, meaning that the government had to respond when industries with social obligations ran into trouble and when an institution needed regulation to prevent inequitable practice. The government sees its role as building a business-friendly environment and providing an essential support framework to enable the private sector to prosper.

CEPA

The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (“CEPA”) established between Hong Kong and Mainland China in 2003 opened up the Mainland’s markets to Hong Kong’s goods and services. Hong Kong and Mainland China thereafter broadened the scope of CEPA and signed ten supplements between 2004 and 2013, expanding market liberalization and further facilitating trade and investment for the economic cooperation between the two jurisdictions. All products of Hong Kong origin, except for a few prohibited articles, can be imported into the mainland tariff free under CEPA. Hong Kong service suppliers enjoy preferential treatment when entering the mainland market in various service areas. There are also agreements or arrangements on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Linked exchange rate

The Linked Exchange Rate System was established in 1983 and stabilizes the exchange rate between the Hong Kong dollar (“HKD”) and the United States dollar (“USD”).

The adoption of a linked exchange rate system between the HKD and the USD forces Hong Kong to adjust its interest rate according to that of the USA. When the Federal Reserve of US increases the interest rate, sooner or later the local interest rates will follow regardless of the state of the local economy. In addition, the exchange rate of the Hong Kong dollar will fluctuate against other major currencies along with the US dollar. 

CURRENT ECONOMIC SITUATION

Pilot RMB Trade Settlement Scheme

Since the introduction of the Pilot Renminbi Trade Settlement Scheme by the Central Government in July 2009, Hong Kong has successfully expanded its Renminbi (“RMB”) business by offering a number of RMB-denominated financial products and services, including trade finance, stocks, bonds and funds. Since the scheme was introduced, the related cross-border remittances total over RMB15 trillion and RMB customer deposits in Hong Kong had surged to RMB1 trillion as at end-2014. In 2014, issuance of RMB bonds in Hong Kong (Dim Sum Bonds) reached RMB197 billion.

Active Stock Market

At the end of April 2015, Hong Kong’s stock market was ranked as the third largest in Asia and the sixth largest in the world in terms of market capitalization. There were 1,752 companies listed on HKEx, including 204 companies on the Growth Enterprise Market. The total market capitalization of Hong Kong’s stock market has reached US$3.2 trillion. Hong Kong is also the second largest private equity centre in Asia, managing about 19% of the total capital pool in the region at end of 2014.

LEGAL SYSTEM IN HONG KONG

The legal system in Hong Kong is based on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The constitutional framework is provided by the Hong Kong Basic Law. The Basic Law ensures that the legal system in the HKSAR will continue to give effect to the rule of law, by providing that the laws previously in force in Hong Kong (that is, the common law, rules of equity, ordinances, subordinate legislation and customary law) shall be maintained, save for any that contravene the Basic Law, and subject to subsequent amendment by the HKSAR legislature.

Forms of Business Ownership in Hong Kong

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SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP

A person owns a business – This the simplest business organization. A sole proprietor needs to: (1) register their business with the Inland Revenue Department (“IRD”) for profit tax purpose; (2) obtain the Business Registration (“BR”) Certificate; and (3) renew BR Certificate annually with BR Office of IRD only. A formal document to set up a business in Hong Kong is not required. 

PARTNERSHIP

Two or more persons own a business. Under the Partnership Ordinance (Cap 38), Section 3(1): “Partnership is the relation which subsists between persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit”. Although a partnership can be formed simply by oral agreement(s), it is advisable to have a written contract to ensure that the partners are clear about what they have agreed.

LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

Limited partnerships are governed by the Limited Partnerships Ordinance (Cap 37). Section 3(2) provides that a limited partnership must consist of at least one general partner (“GP”) and at least one limited partner (“LP”). GPs are liable for all debts and obligations of the firm and LPs, at the time of entering into such partnership, are required to contribute to the limited partnership a sum or sums as capital or property valued at a stated amount.

COMPANY

The Company owns the business. A company is a separate legal entity from the people who own the company’s shares (i.e. the members or shareholders) or its managers (i.e. the directors). Most of the companies in Hong Kong are formed by the registration procedure set out in the Companies Ordinance (Cap 622).

Most Hong Kong companies’ members enjoy the benefit of limited liability. When the company fails financially or is liquidated, the members will only lose their investment. Their personal wealth will not be affected. Company law is governed mainly by the Companies Ordinance but case law is an important source of law relating to company administration, management and liabilities.

Regardless of the form of business, a BR Certificate must be obtained from the IRD for profits taxation purposes. Choosing an appropriate business form is the key decision for the business. 

Types of Companies

It is possible to form several different types of companies under the Companies Ordinance. The most common one is the company limited by shares. It is the one most often used for general commercial purposes. The shareholder of the company may lose the value of their shares if the company is liquidated and cannot pay all of its debts. They will not be personally responsible for the company’s liabilities.

Alternatively, there is a company limited by guarantee. This type of company is used mainly for charities or professional associations. The object of the company is not for trading or running a business but to further professional objectives or the promotion of charitable objects. Should the company fail, the members of these companies make a written promise (the guarantee) to contribute a small amount to the assets of the company – usually HK$10 or HK$100.These members have no further liability for the company’s debts.

Private Company vs Public Company

 Another distinction in law is between public and private companies. In Hong Kong a private company is intended for use by a small number of persons who wish to have the advantages of incorporation.

Under Section 11(1) of the Company Ordinance a private company restricts under its articles of association (1) the transfer of shares; (2) limits the number of members to no more than 50 persons; and (3) prohibits any invitation to the public to subscribe for shares in the company. Besides, a private company cannot be incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. There are about 1,170,000 private companies in Hong Kong.

A public company is neither a private company nor a company limited by guarantee. It can : (1) have more than 50 members, (2) has no restriction on the transfer of its shares and (3) may invite the public to buy shares.

The Hong Kong Companies (Amendment) Ordinance 2003 provides that with effect from February 2004, a private company may have only one director and one shareholder, so permitting the formation of a “one-man company”. The requirement to have at least 2 directors for a public company remains unchanged.

Listed Company

A listed company is a public company which is listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (“SEHK”). The SEHK is simply a market place where one can easily buy or sell shares in the companies that are listed there. The process of listing a company is called an initial public offering (IPO) and the company must satisfy a number of very stringent requirements set by the Ordinance and by the Listing Rules of the SEHK.

Non-Hong Kong Company

Many companies operating in Hong Kong are incorporated under the law of foreign countries. When a foreign company intends to carry business business in Hong Kong, it must apply to the Registrar of Companies for registration, within one month from its establishment in Hong Kong.

Shelf Company

This is a company that has already been formed by registration agents to be sold and has not commenced business. The advantage of using such a ready-made company to set up a new business is speed – the company already exists and can trade immediately. However, the memorandum, articles, capital limited and name may need to be altered to suit the specific needs of the business and its owner.

Choice of Business Entity in Hong Kong

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There are three main business entity choices: (1) sole proprietorship; (2) partnership; and (3) company. The advantages and disadvantages to each business entity have been summarized below.

The easiest business entity to begin the business is a sole proprietorship. The main feature of this form is that it is identified with the sole proprietor. If the business makes a profit, it automatically is the income for the sole proprietor. If the business incurs a debt, it is the sole proprietor’s personal debt. If the business gets sued, the sole proprietor will be sued personally as well. This is the strength and at the same time is the weakness of the sole proprietorship.

Therefore, sole proprietorship may be appropriate for a low risk business that does not need limited liability and if the sole proprietor has sufficient capital. This is often used for small businesses.

When the sole proprietor does not have sufficient capital to start his business, he may need to invite other investors to join his business. A partnership or company may be more appropriate.

One benefit of partnership is to raise more capital. Other partners’ contributions may be what a sole proprietor needs to launch his business. 

The third form of business is the company and the two main advantages to incorporate are (i) easier to attract investors; and (ii) having corporate personality.

The running of a company requires compliance with the Companies Ordinance which can increase costs.

Specific Licenses in Hong Kong

Apart from obtaining the business registration certificate, certain businesses are required to hold additional specific licenses for authorized activites in fields such as: banking, insurance, trust company, telecommunications, money service operation, funds operation.

The goods & services business license is the most common license in Hong Kong and it is classified into three business groups: (1) Food; (2) Non-food Goods; and (3) Services. 

FOOD

Food businesses are recommended to apply for the relevant license before starting the trading, selling, processing and production of regulated food, including beverages, fruit and vegetables, dairy produce, meat, fish, confectionery and bakery products.

Restaurants and food stores are also required to hold the specific license that is appropriate for their activity and must provide full details of the activity in the application forms.

NON-FOOD GOODS

Trade in non-food goods is also regulated and a specific license is required. There is a wide range of regulated activities including, among others, chemicals, clothing and footwear, animals and pets, jewellery and electrical appliances.

SERVICES

A specific license is required to operate a business in certain categories including, amusement and recreation, construction, cultural and social services, education, financial services, fire and security, land and air transport, medical and social welfare services, personal services, printing and publishing, research and development of natural sciences and engineering, storage and freight handling, telecommunications, travel services, waste, water transport and shipping agents.  

RBA can assist you in your license application here.

Bank Account Opening in Hong Kong

Hong Kong banks are monitored by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (“HKMA”) in accordance with international standards, in particular those recommended by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

INDIVIDUAL BANK ACCOUNT

Individuals are normally required to hold a Hong Kong identity card or resident’s card to open a bank account in Hong Kong. Debit cards are generally not issued but Visa and Mastercard credit cards are common.

In 2012, the Hong Kong Government enacted Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance which restricts the ability of banks to open a bank account in Hong Kong other than by a personal meeting with the bankers. Citizens of some countries may find it difficult to open a bank account in Hong Kong including nationals of the CIS countries, Iraq, Iran and India.

Each bank will have its own seperate account opening procedures and documentary requirements. Banks require proof of the applicant’s full name and current residential address in English or Chinese. A government authority, electricity supplier, another bank, or telecommunication company should issue the proof of address (e.g. bank statement, water and utility bill) dated not more than 60 days before the meeting with the bank.

If the due diligence requirements and the meeting are satisfactory, an individual bank account should be opened within a few weeks.

CORPORATE BANK ACCOUNT

Opening a corporate bank account can be more onerous more difficult and complicated than opening an account for an individual. In addition to the standard requirements for individuals, HKMA also requires that all Hong Kong banks operating in Hong Kong meet with all shareholders owning more than 10% of the shares of the Hong Kong Company, a majority of the board of directors and all authorized signatories during the account opening process.

All the individuals will be required to produce their passports and the proof of address. A business plan should be prepared to explain the company’s business. If all the paperwork is in order it should be possible for a corporate bank account to be opened within about 2 to 4 weeks, although this may take longer for more complex applications.

RBA can assist with complex bank opening and structuring here

Employment Law in Hong Kong

The employer-employee relationship is not only considered in economic terms, but is also a relationship of mutual dependency. Both the employers and the employees have moral as well as legal obligations arising from this relationship.

WHAT IS AN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT?

A contract of employment is an agreement on the terms and conditions of employment made between an employer and an employee. The agreement can be made orally or in writing and includes both express and implied terms. The Labour Department encourages employers and employees to set out terms and conditions in written employment contracts. An employment contract must be made in accordance with the common law and relevant statutory requirements. 

As stipulated by the Employment Ordinance (Cap 57) (“EO”), an employer must clearly inform each of the employees of the conditions of employment under which they are to be employed with regard to:

  • Wages (including rate of wages, overtime rate and any allowance);
  • Wage period;
  • Length of notice required to terminate the contract;
  • The end of year payment or proportion and the payment period (if any).

If there is a breach of material term by the employer, the employee may resign and claim constructive dismissal. If the breach of a material term is on the side of the employee, the employer is also able to dismiss an employee fairly. 

CONTINUOUS EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

The EO does not provide a definition of full time or part time employment. A continuous contract of employment is an employment by the same employer for four weeks or more, for at least eighteen hours a week.

All employees are covered by the EO, irrespective of the number of hours they work in each week, and are entitled to basic protection under the EO including wage protection, statutory holidays and protection against anti-union discrimination. Employees employed under continuous contracts are entitled to further benefits including rest days, paid annual leave, sickness allowance, long service payment, severance payment, etc.

Mandatory Provident Fund

Due to low birth rates and increased life expectancy, Hong Kong is facing a rapidly ageing population. As the population grows older, the working population will have a much larger number of retirees to support. 

The debate over a suitable retirement protection system for Hong Kong started in the 1960s. In 1994, the World Bank published its report “Averting the Old-Age Crisis: Policies to Protect the Old and Promote Growth”, in which a three-pillar approach to protection for the aged was put forward. The three pillars were:

  • a publicly managed, tax-financed social safety net;
  • a mandatory, privately managed and fully funded contribution scheme;
  • a voluntary personal savings and insurance. 

Hong Kong’s Mandatory Provident Fund (“MPF”) system was designed to form the second pillar for retirement protection. In 1995, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (Cap 485) (“MPFSO”) was enacted, supplemented by subsidiary legislation passed in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The MPF system was launched in December 2000.

THREE TYPES OF MPF SCHEMES

There are three types of MPF schemes in Hong Kong: Master Trust Schemes, Employer-sponsored Schemes and Industry Schemes.

Master Trust Schemes

Master Trust Schemes are the most common type of MPF schemes in Hong Kong. It is open to relevant employees of participating employers, self-employed persons and persons with accrued benefits transferred from other schemes. By pooling together contributions from various employers and their relevant employees and those from self-employed persons, Master Trust Schemes have a high degree of efficiency in terms of scheme administration because of economies of scale.

Employer-Sponsored Schemes

Employer-Sponsored Schemes are schemes limited to the employees of a single employer and its associated companies. Because of restrictions to membership, it is only cost-effective to run an Employer-Sponsored scheme with a large number of employees.

Industry Schemes

Industry Schemes refer to pension schemes which have been specially established for employees in the catering and construction industries, particularly casual employees (i.e. workers employed on a day-to-day basis or for a fixed period of less than 60 days). Casual employees do not need to change schemes when they change jobs within these two industries, providing their previous and new employers have registered with the same Industry Scheme.

FOUR-TIER PROTECTION SYSTEM

To ensure that employees’ interests are adequately and properly protected, Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (“MPFA”) has a comprehensive approval and monitoring system. There are Stringent Approval and Registration Criteria; On-going Monitoring; Professional Indemnity Insurance; and Compensation Fund. 

Stringent Approval and Registration Criteria

Companies incorporated in or outside Hong Kong may apply to become MPF approved trustees by meeting stringent statutory criteria on capital adequacy; sufficient presence and control in Hong Kong; capability the conduct the business of administering MPF schemes; fitness and propriety of the controllers; the skill, knowledge, experience and qualifications of the directors and the chief executive officer and the company’s internal standards of control.

Natural persons can also apply to become MPF approved trustees. However, at present, all the approved trustees are companies incorporated in Hong Kong. MPF trustees are responsible for appointing investment managers and other service providers and to ensure that they comply with all MPF requirement, standards and guidelines.

On-going Monitoring

As the regulator of the MPF system, MPFA monitors MPF trustees to ensure their compliance with the MPF legislation and to facilitate early detection and correction of errors and deficiencies. All MPF trustees are required to regularly lodge returns, financial statements and internal control reports with MPFA. MPFA conducts field inspections of trustees and investigates cases of suspected non-compliance as they arise. If trustees fail to comply with the MPF legislation, depending on the nature of the failure, they may receive a warning from MPFA or be subject to financial penalties and ordered to take immediate remedial action.

In case of serious breaches, MPFA can take other action against non-compliant trustees in accordance with the MPF legislation. For example, in a case where the MPFA reasonably suspects that the trustee is unable to carry out any of its duties as an approved trustee, the MPFA may suspend the trustee from administration of the MPF scheme and appoint a new administrator to administer the scheme on a temporary basis. If the MPFA has reasonable grounds to consider that the trustee of a scheme is unable to carry out any of its duties as an approved trustee, the MPFA may revoke the approval of the trustee. Non-compliant trustees may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

MPF trustees are required to take out adequate insurance to provide indemnity in respect of prescribed risks attributable to the administration of the scheme by the trustees or their service providers.

Compensation Fund

The MPFSO also requires the establishment of a Compensation Fund by the MPFA to compensate members of MPF schemes for losses of accrued benefits caused by misfeasance or illegal conduct committed by MPF trustees and others concerned with the administration of the MPF schemes. The government provided a one-off grant of HK$600 million as seed money when the Compensation Fund was established in 1999. 

COVERAGE

Employees

The 60-day employment rule is one of the important factors used to evaluate coverage under the MPF scheme. Any full-time or part-time employee who has been employed for 60 days or more under an employment contract must be covered under the MPF scheme. The 60-days are counted by calendar days (including holidays) and determined by the employment relationship between the employee and employer. The number of actual working days or hours is irrelevant for the calculation. Employers MPF obligations cannot be evaded by breaking up an employee’s employment into a series of periods of less than 60 days. If the total employment over te period is more than 60 days the employer must enroll the employee in an MPF scheme and pay the contributions.

The 60-day employment rule does not apply to a causal employees in the construction and catering industries.

MPF is an employment-based retirement protection system for employees (both regular and causal) and self-employed persons, aged 18 to 65 years, normally residing and working in Hong Kong.

Relevant Income

Under the MPFSO, relevant income includes any wages, salary, leave pay, fee, commission, bonus, gratuity, perquisite or allowance (including housing allowance or other housing benefit) expressed in monetary terms, that are paid or payable by an employer to the employee in consideration of his/her employment.

Each of the following sources of incomes is regarded as relevant income: wages and salary; reimbursement or allowance in cash form; transportation and car subsidy; commission; tips collected by an employer; and court awards.

On the contrary, the following sources of income are not regarded as relevant income: reimbursement or allowance; travel allowance on non-monetary basis; tips not collected by an employer; employees’ benefits; termination payment; and other non-monetary income.

EXEMPT PERSONS

There are certain categories of persons in Hong Kong who are not required to join an MPF scheme. Employers of exempt persons are exempted from contributing to an MPF scheme for these exempt persons.

Should an individual cease to be exempt, the enrolment and contribution requirements apply from the cessation of the xemption. The following exempt persons not required to join an MPF scheme: 

  • Employees and self-employed persons under 18 years or 65 years and older;
  • domestic employees;
  • self-employed hawkers;
  • individuals covered by statutory pension or provident fund schemes, such as civil servants and subsidized or grant school teachers;
  • members of occupational retirement schemes which are granted MPF exemption certificates;
  • foreigners who enter Hong Kong for employment for not more than 13 months, or who are covered by overseas retirement schemes;
  • employees of the European Union Office of the European Commission in Hong Kong.

MANDATORY CONTRIBUTIONS

Regular employees who are paid monthly

Employees and employers who are covered by the MPF system are each required to make regular mandatory contributions to an MPF scheme. The contributions are calculated at 5% of the employee’s relevant income, subject to minimum and maximum relevant income levels. For a monthly-paid employee, the minimum and maximum levels are respectively HK$7,100 (from 1 November 2013) and HK$30,000 (from 1 June 2014). Both employees and employers are free to make voluntary contributions in addition to mandatory contributions.

Casual employees who are not paid on a monthly basis

The calculations of mandatory contributions for casual employees in the Industry Schemes differ from those for regular employees. Casual employees in the construction and catering industries are commonly paid on daily, weekly or bi-monthly basis. Employers should calculate the minimum and maximum levels of relevant income in the differing payroll cycles, to determine the amount of the contribution. The calculation should be based on the daily minimum relevant income of HK$280 (from 1 November 2013) and the daily maximum level of HK$1,000 (from 1 June 2014). The employees and employers are free to make voluntary contributions in addition to mandatory contributions.

Self-employed persons

Self-employed persons who are covered by the MPF system must make regular mandatory contributions to an MPF scheme, calculated at 5% of their relevant income, subject to the minimum and maximum relevant income levels. They can opt to make mandatory contributions on a monthly or yearly basis. The respective minimum and maximum relevant income levels are HK$7,100 per month (or HK$85,200 per year) and HK$30,000 per month (or HK$360,000 per year) (from 1 June 2014). Self-employed persons are free to make voluntary contributions on top of their mandatory contributions. 

CALCULATION, DEDUCTION AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Transfer of accrued benefits

The MPF contributions made by an employee and their current employer are held in a contribution account for investment within the MPF scheme selected by the employer (i.e. the original scheme). When an employee changes jobs, they have three alternatives in dealing with their accrued benefits (i.e. the accumulated contributions and investment returns) held in the contribution account under the original scheme:

  • transfer the accrued benefits from the contribution account in the original scheme o a personal account in any other Master Trust Scheme or Industry Scheme of the employee’s choice;
  • retain the accrued benefits in the original scheme under a persona account (this option does not apply to members of Employer-sponsored Schemes on changing employment); or
  • transfer the accrued benefits from the contribution account in the original scheme to the contribution account in the scheme of the new employer.  

Withdrawal of accrued benefits

Since the MPF system was introduced to help the workforce save for old age, withdrawal of accrued benefits is only allowed when a scheme member reaches retirement age at 65 year, as stipulated in the MPFSO.

However, there are circumstances under which accrued benefits may be paid before a scheme member reaches the age of 65 years, provided that the following specified conditions can be met:

  • early retirement at the age of 60;
  • permanent departure from Hong Kong;
  • total incapacity;
  • a small balance account of HK$5,000 or less and no contributions have been made to an MPF scheme for twelve months; or
  • death.

Residence and Visa issues for Hong Kong

There are various different ways to become Hong Kong Resident. The Principal ones are set out below. It is advisable to hire the services of professionals to handle the application on your behalf.

Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Visa

The Entry for Investment visa scheme is for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to operate their own business in Hong Kong. It is essentially a type of work permit that is issued to the owner of a Hong Kong business, that permits the individual to be an employee of that Hong Kong Company.

One of the main criteria is whether the applicant is able to prove that the business will make a significant contribution to the economy of Hong Kong. The entrepreneur visa is generally issued for an initial two-year period and is renewable thereafter as long as the business remains viable.

Eligibility Criteria

An applicant under this scheme must have no criminal record, meet the security requirements of Hong Kong, and provide evidence of a good educational background, ie a degree in the relevant field, good technical qualifications, relevant professional abilities, achievements and experience.

In addition, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that they will make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong through the creation of jobs for the local workforce, the use of the services of local service providers, suppliers, manufacturers etc. and that the company will make a contribution in the specific market that it is entering.

Investment Requirements

There is no minimum investment requirement. However, at the time of processing the application, the authorities will closely examine the proposed business plan to assess if the proposed investment is sufficient to set up the business. The applicant must ensure that the proposed investment covers the start-up and operational expenses of the business for at least the initial 3-6 month period.

Timeline

The time taken to process the application is about 4-6 weeks.

Hong Kong Employees Visa

Hong Kong has a special work permit scheme for hiring skilled foreign employees, Employment for Professionals.

Eligible applicants must have good educational qualifications and possess special skills, knowledge or experience of value, that are not readily available in Hong Kong. There is no quota system limiting the number of work visas under this scheme. Each application is assessed on the qualifications of the applicant and the employing company.

This type of work permit is normally issued for one year period initially and renewable thereafter.

Eligibility Criteria

An applicant under this scheme must have no criminal record, meet the security requirements of Hong Kong, and provide evidence of a good educational background ie a degree in the relevant field, good technical qualifications, relevant professional abilities, achievements and experience.

It is a requirement of the scheme that there is a genuine employment vacancy at the employing company which cannot be filled from the local workforce. The applicant must have a confirmed employment offer and the job matches the applicant’s academic qualifications or work experience. The applicant’s remuneration package, including income, accommodation, medical and other benefits is in line with the prevailing market in Hong Kong.

If the employing company is a new company, set up within the last 12 months a detailed business plan must also be provided.

Timeline

The application is processing in about 4-6 weeks. Most work permit visas under the Employment for Professional’s Scheme are issued for a one-year period.

Change of Employment

The work permit that is issued is tied to a specific employer and is not transferable. To change jobs, the applicant must first obtain approval by filing “Application for Change of Employment” with the Immigration Department.

Dependant Visa for Family

Individuals who hold a valid Hong Kong visa (ie Entrepreneurs Visa, Employment Visa and Permanent Visa) can apply for a Dependant Family Visa to bring their immediate family members into Hong Kong. A dependant family member is limited to the applicant’s spouse and unmarried dependant children under 18 years of age and allows the holder to take up employment or study in Hong Kong. The Dependant’s Visa is tied to the principal visa holder’s stay in Hong Kong. 

Permanent Residence

An individual, who has resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of at least seven years, is eligible to apply for Permanent Residence, commonly referred to as a “Right of Abode” in Hong Kong.

RBA can assist you with your visa requirements in HK here.

 

 

 

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