II. Hong Kong permanent residence

The legal status of permanent resident of Hong Kong may be acquired by any person, regardless of whether they have Chinese nationality.

Article 24 of the Hong Kong Basic Law and paragraph 2 of schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance set out in concise terms for who is entitled to Hong Kong permanent resident status. In summary, they state that the following persons are the permanent residents of Hong Kong:

  1. Chinese nationals who were born in Hong Kong.
  2. Chinese nationals who were born outside Hong Kong but who are lawfully permitted to live in Hong Kong and have done so for 7 years.
  3. Chinese nationals who were born outside Hong Kong to a parent (father or mother) who, at the time of birth, was already a Hong Kong permanent resident.
  4. Foreigners (persons not of Chinese nationality) who have lived in Hong Kong lawfully for 7 years and have taken Hong Kong as their permanent place of residence (*note).
  5. Foreigners under the age of 21 who were born in Hong Kong to a parent who is a permanent resident as defined in category (iv). On reaching the age of 21, these persons must establish their own permanent resident status under one of the above categories, otherwise they will cease to be permanent residents of Hong Kong.
  6. Persons who had no right of abode anywhere other than Hong Kong before the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR.

(*Note: In practice, the Immigration Department may impose additional requirements on foreigners who apply for Hong Kong permanent resident status under article 24 of the Basic Law, including the proof that they have paid all taxes that have been levied on them.)

In addition, the Immigration Ordinance contains other provisions that relate to the entitlement to Hong Kong permanent resident status. For example, paragraph 6 of schedule 1 of the Immigration Ordinance provides for the continuation of the permanent resident status that was enjoyed by certain non-Chinese persons before the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997. Section 2(4) of the Ordinance excludes certain occupational categories, such as foreign domestic helpers and Mainland government officials, from acquiring Hong Kong permanent resident status.

Generally speaking, no one is entitled to exercise the right of permanent residence until their status as such has been verified by the Immigration Department. For residents of Mainland China, this is achieved by applying for a "certificate of entitlement" (issued by the Immigration Department of the Hong Kong SAR). Other nationalities can apply at the Immigration Department for verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card. More details are given in the following sections.

  1. Do I have to be present in Hong Kong for 7 years continuously before I can acquire the status of permanent resident?
  2. What legal rights do Hong Kong permanent residents enjoy?
  3. Can Hong Kong permanent resident status be lost?
  4. Can former residents return to Hong Kong and renew their status as Hong Kong permanent residents?
  5. Are all children who are born in Hong Kong automatically entitled to right of abode?
  6. Are non-Chinese persons or ethnic minorities entitled to the same rights as Chinese persons in Hong Kong?
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