The city of Hong Kong is perhaps the ultimate juxtaposition of modernity and tradition. The city attracts visitors from across the globe, who come to marvel at the towering skyscrapers contrasted with captivating temples – such as Tin Hau Temple in Joss House Bay, the oldest and largest in Hong Kong. Factor in the modern shopping opportunities, incredible local cuisine, and efficient public transportation – one of the best systems in the world – and you may even consider seeking residency in Hong Kong.
But how can this be done? Is the process easy? And what are the benefits? In this article, we will provide you with an overview of acquiring residency in Hong Kong. We will focus primarily on how to acquire permanent residency in Hong Kong but will also touch upon ways to obtain temporary residency in the city.
A Brief Introduction to Hong Kong
Hong Kong, located in Eastern Asia, is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China that comprises 200 islands bordering the South China Sea and Mainland China. The city is also called the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or Hong Kong SAR.
The city is renowned for its modern outlook, as an investment hub, and as being a crucial center for trade. When it comes to education, healthcare, and infrastructure, the city is one of the most advanced in the world. Hong Kong’s economy is extremely strong, and whether you are a business investor or expat, seeking residency in Hong Kong could be extremely beneficial.
How to Get Residency in Hong Kong
Securing residency in Hong Kong is not as difficult as you may first assume, and there are various routes open to you. In the following sections, we’ll arm you with crucial information on the all-important eligibility criteria (to secure both a temporary residence and permanent residency) and the benefits of becoming a permanent resident before exploring the application procedure and timeline.
Requirements for Residency in Hong Kong
How to get temporary residency in Hong Kong
There are various ways to obtain temporary residency in Hong Kong, such as the following:
- Employment, such as through the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme
- Investment as Entrepreneurs scheme for foreign nationals who open a business in Hong Kong
- If you are a dependent of the applicant (e.g., spouse, same-sex civil partnership, an unmarried child aged under 18, a parent aged 60 or above). Further information can be found here.
- Training or seasonal work
- Hong Kong residency by investment
How to get permanent residency in Hong Kong
According to Hong Kong basic law, there are different categories where individuals are allowed to become permanent residents in Hong Kong.
These include the following:
- You are of Chinese nationality born in Hong Kong, and have been legally living in Hong Kong for a period of seven years
- Chinese nationals born outside of Hong Kong, but one of their parents was a resident of Hong Kong at the time of birth
- Foreigners who have legally resided in Hong Kong for seven years and for whom the city is their permanent place of residence are able to apply for Hong Kong permanent residency
- Foreigners aged under 21 with a Hong Kong resident parent can also secure their own permanent resident status. Note that foreigners over the age of 21 will need to apply for a permanent residence permit themselves.
- Individuals that have no right to abode anywhere else than in Hong Kong
A foreigner that is not a Chinese national applying for permanent residency in Hong Kong may need to fulfill other requirements. This can include providing proof that they have paid taxes in Hong Kong during the time spent in Hong Kong.
The Immigration Department (their website can be found here) is the responsible authority in charge of all applications for permanent residence. If you wish to apply for a permanent residence permit, we recommend seeking expert help so that you can ensure that the process is a smooth one and you submit the correct documents to the Immigration Department.
Benefits of Becoming a Hong Kong Permanent Resident
Securing permanent residency in Hong Kong means you can access attractive benefits, typically only open to citizens.
Some of the benefits open to permanent residents include:
- The right to reside permanently in Hong Kong
- The right to work in Hong Kong
- Access to healthcare
- Access to education
- Access to government programs, provided that you are eligible
- The right to vote in some local elections (where eligible)
You will need to make sure you have a valid permanent identity card to enjoy the benefits that come with having permanent residency.
Application Process and Time Frame
In this section, we’ll provide you with some key information about the application process and the time it takes to acquire your Hong Kong permanent resident card (also known as the HKID card or permanent identity card).
When it comes to the application process of becoming a Hong Kong permanent resident, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Fill in the permanent resident application form (make sure it is the correct form based on your eligibility route)
- Ensure you have all the required supporting documents to verify your eligibility status to acquire permanent residency
- If you are not a Chinese citizen, you will need a declaration that Hong Kong will remain your permanent home (Form ROP146)
- Provide hard copies of your application or upload them online
The supporting documents that you will need to provide will depend on which route you are applying for permanent residency.
For example, if you are applying based on residency in Hong Kong for seven years, then you can use your tax notifications from the past seven years, employment contracts, or rental agreements to demonstrate your residency in Hong Kong during this time.
You will be notified of any other supporting information and documents that are required. Also, you’ll be pleased to know that there is not usually a fee for the first residency card.
Important Note: A permanent resident who is a Chinese citizen will lose permanent residence status if they cease to be a Chinese citizen. Hong Kong permanent residents who are not Chinese citizens will lose permanent resident status if they are absent from Hong Kong for a consecutive period of three years or more.
Time frame for securing your permanent residency card
The processing time is quite quick once you have applied for your permanent resident status, and it will take about six weeks.
Once your application is approved, your existing visa is revoked, and you will need to go to the Registration of Persons office to obtain your physical card.
If you are applying for a child under the age of 11, they will not receive a card but will have an endorsement added to their passport to show that they are eligible to remain in Hong Kong.
Note that Hong Kong citizenship is not possible. Only those with Chinese nationality can acquire a Hong Kong passport. Under Chinese nationality law, Chinese nationality is obtained primarily through ancestry and not the place of birth. As such, persons of Chinese descent- or Hong Kong citizens – are usually considered Chinese nationals. Also, the People’s Republic of China does not allow dual citizenship.
Right of Abode in the HKSAR
The Right of Abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) grants citizens and permanent residents the freedom to live and work in Hong Kong without any restrictions or time limitations. It is a legal status enacted on 1 July 1997, guaranteeing the right to reside in Hong Kong indefinitely, allowing individuals to enjoy various benefits and privileges offered by the HKSAR government, such as the right to hold public office, buy land, and avoid paying stamp duty.
Obtaining the Right of Abode in HKSAR requires meeting specific eligibility criteria and going through the necessary application process. Those who meet the eligibility criteria for the Right to Abode in the HKSAR are:
Category one: A Chinese national born in Hong Kong before or after the HKSAR was established
Category two: A Chinese national who has consistently resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of at least seven years before or after the HKSAR was established
Category three: A person with Chinese citizenship born outside Hong Kong before or after the HKSAR was established to a parent who, at the time of birth of that person, was a Chinese national falling within category one or two.
Category four: A person not of Chinese citizenship who entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has consistently resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of at least seven years, and has confirmed Hong Kong as their place of permanent residence before or after the HKSAR was established
Category five: A person under 21 born in Hong Kong to a parent who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR in category four before or after the HKSAR was established if at the time of their birth, or at any later time before they turn 21, one parent has the right of abode in Hong Kong
Category six: A person other than residents in categories one to five, who, before or after the HKSAR was established, had the right of abode in Hong Kong only
Global Citizen Solutions: Who We Are and How We Can Help You
Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm focused on finding the right relocation, residency or citizenship by investment program for individuals wishing to secure their future and become global citizens. If you want to apply for a residency by investment (RBI) or citizenship by investment (CBI) program but are still determining which program is for you, we are here to help.
The following materials may be of interest to you:
- Singapore Citizenship by Investment: A Detailed Guide
- Hong Kong Golden Visa Interest Surged in 2019 After Unrest
- Hong Kong Citizenship: An Overview
- Residence vs. Citizenship: Which is the Better Option?
- How to Aquire the Fastest Citizenship by Investment?
- What are the Fastest Citizenship by Investment Programs?
- Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Guide
And you can find out how Hong Kong ranks in our Global Passport Index. You can visit the Hong Kong country page here.
Frequently Asked Questions about Residency in Hong Kong
Can a US citizen live in Hong Kong?
There are various options for US citizens to move to Hong Kong, such as through employment in the city. For permanent residency, you will need to have lived in Hong Kong for seven years and register Hong Kong as your place of permanent residency.
Can I get permanent residency in Hong Kong?
Yes, there are various options to secure permanent residency in Hong Kong. For foreigners that are not Chinese citizens, you will need to have resided in Hong Kong for seven years, and you will need to register Hong Kong as your place of permanent residency. A child born overseas to a Hong Kong permanent resident is also eligible to get permanent residency.
How long can you stay in Hong Kong as a US citizen?
US citizens can stay in Hong Kong for 90 days without a visa. After this, they will need to secure a residency permit so that they can stay in Hong Kong legally.