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Relocating to Hong Kong 101

With Hong Kong’s new policies in place with different admission schemes for talent, professionals and entrepreneurs, more variety of different visas are available from Hong Kong immigration. Hong Kong has a long history of welcoming expats into its rich cultural heritage, a place where Western and Asian cultures coexist, balancing Chinese traditions with a modern and fast-paced lifestyle. Hong Kong has been an important gateway into world markets for a handful of multinational companies within the tech, banking, finance, marketing, retail and property industries. Popular job opportunities for expats can be seen within the financial sector, where local expertise is limited. Below we outline some of the most asked questions from our expat candidates who are interested in working in one the most tax-friendly systems in the world.


Language

The two official languages are English and Chinese, Chinese has several dialects and the main one spoken in Hong Kong is Cantonese and some of the expats speak a rather different Mandarin dialect. Most professionals speak English.


Taxes

You’re subject to tax if you’re earning income from Hong Kong for employment or services rendered for visits longer than 60 days, Hong Kong taxes have relatively low progressive rates, starting at 2% up to 17% with a standard 15%. Tax isn’t deducted automatically so you’ll need to complete a tax declaration form at the end of the fiscal year (31 March) with The Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department.


Accommodation

Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live, prices of buying or renting in this city will shock most expats. The vast majority of residential areas consist of high-rise apartment blocks that are tightly packed together in small spaces, most of the buildings are management-run apartments offering clubhouse facilities, security services, swimming pools, gym, and children’s playgrounds. Rent will generally be high and your living space will be small. On the positive side, Hong Kong is a small city, and everything is relatively close to one another. If you decide to live on the island part of Hong Kong you’ll have easy access to the busy cultural life of the top entertainment and dining and an easy commute if you’re working in the city centre such as Central, Admiralty, Quarry Bay, etc. As with any city, you can save on accommodation by living off the island and still enjoy the culture of your neighborhood. Some neighborhoods to consider are Wan Chai, both a commercial district and fashionable residential area; the Mid-Levels, popular with young couples and expats for its proximity to the centre and to some good private schools and outdoor attractions; and the more affordable North Point which is a little quieter and has more of a local population. The Home Affairs Department is a great place to start your research!


Visa & Work Permit

One of the main requirements to obtain any type of work visa in Hong Kong is to have a confirmed job offer when you submit your documents for processing. However, with the latest Hong Kong government policy, if your professional knowledge is in high-demand and you have enough experience within the field, you might be able to move to Hong Kong under a special type of visa.


If you are coming to Hong Kong for an interview, the first thing to do is to check whether your nationality has an entry visa exemption. Citizens from a number of countries can enter Hong Kong without a visa for a limited amount of time, from 14 days to 30 days up to 90 days.


Once you have secured your job offer, you will need to apply for a Hong Kong visa with the employer’s sponsorship. Hong Kong visa requirements can be tough since it is not a point-based system. The candidates will need to demonstrate that he or she is well-qualified for the job and the employer tried to recruit locally but unsuccessful. There are a number of options among work permits, the most common type is the General Employment Policy (GEP) visa for skilled and qualified non-Mainland residents, GEP for Entrepreneurs, Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS), Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals for Mainland residents (ASMTP), Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS), Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS), Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG). Some other options include the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, Domestic Help Visa, and Freelancer’s Visa, etc. Certain visa types do not require a job offer such as IANG, Top Talent Pass and QMAS… Basically, unless the job pays HKD 2 million or more annually or otherwise entails a skill on the talent list, then genuine efforts to recruit locally need to have been undertaken before extending the job offer to the foreign national visa applicant. The compensation must also be broadly commensurate with market rates paid to similar professionals in Hong Kong.


Dependents

If you successfully obtain an employment visa, you can bring your legal spouse and any children under the age of 18 as dependents. Visas for dependents will be issued at the same time as the employment visa, as long as the marriage or civil partnership is certified and the children are the biological or adopted offspring of at least one of the parents. Dependent visa holders are permitted to work, establish or join a business, or study without requiring further permissions from the Immigration Department.


For more detailed information or specific application forms, speak to one of our visa experts who will provide comprehensive guidance on employment visas in Hong Kong. Book for a free consultation today!




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