Skip to main content

2. Who is entitled to an employment visa?

In general, only two groups of people are entitled to work in Hong Kong unless prior permission is obtained from the Immigration Department. These two groups of people are:


  1. Hong Kong permanent residents (i.e. holders of permanent identity cards); and
  2. non-permanent resident identity card holders whose passports or travel documents are endorsed with permission that does not restrict employment.

There are no legal rules that set out when a person may be granted permission to remain in Hong Kong for employment purposes. It is entirely a matter of discretion under section 11 of the Immigration Ordinance. That discretion is exercised in accordance with internal guidelines that are largely unpublished, but some general rules are known. For most people, the following principles apply:


  1. the job should generally be of a senior nature; or
  2. there should be a shortage of persons in Hong Kong who are able to do the job.

Certain categories of persons (such as domestic helpers) come under special schemes that are administered by the Immigration Department. More information about the application procedures for employment visas is available on the website of the Immigration Department .


A person who is granted an employment visa may only work for the sponsoring employer. Further permission must be sought from the Immigration Department should such a person wish to change employer.


As the granting of employment visas is entirely a matter of discretion, the Director of Immigration must consider each application on a case by case basis. If your application is rejected because it does not come within the relevant guidelines and you consider this rejection to be unreasonable, then you should consult a legal expert.