Hong Kong is a city that many expats consider as a transit place, they would come to the city for temporary assignments, also to take advantage of its geographic location into exploring other Asian cities.
After a few years of living in Hong Kong, many young professionals fell in love with this vibrant city and plan to make Hong Kong their new home.
Read on to find out about the different types of residency statuses; the benefits of being a Hong Kong permanent resident; and how expats can achieve becoming a permanent resident.
Types of Hong Kong residency statuses
For any foreigners who have been granted one of the following visas/ permits, they are automatically given the temporary residency status:
Visa holders are allowed to live, and to study or work in Hong Kong (depending on the visa type) for the durations that they have been granted for. The first approval usually is for a maximum of 24 months.
When arrive at the Hong Kong Immigration with the approved visas, visa holders’ visas will be activated by the Immigration Officer on the day. And within 30 days after arriving in Hong Kong, anyone who is above the age of 11 must apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID card) at the Immigration Department.
Visa holders with the HKID card are also allowed to re-entre Hong Kong via their ID card without needing to apply for a new visa.
For those visa holders who have lived in Hong Kong for not less than 7 years consecutively, they may be eligible to apply for the permanent residency status. When granted the new status, these new permanent residents are no longer restricted with timeframe on how long they can stay in Hong Kong. They will also be issued a new type of HKID card to show of their new residency status.
Here is an image demonstrating the information printed on a HKID card.
(Image sourced from www.immd.gov.hk)
Note, for those with temporary residency status, the title of the HKID card would only display with “香港居民身份證HONG KONG IDENTITY CARD”.
Also, the “Symbols” letter would state the ID card holder residency status, i.e.
“A” – right of abode in the HKSAR
“C” – can stay in the HKSAR for the period granted by the Director of Immigration
The benefits of having the Hong Kong permanent residency status
Foreigners with the Hong Kong permanent residency status can benefit from the below without losing the original citizenship:
Having the right to stay in Hong Kong indefinitely.
Having the right to work in Hong Kong without applying for a Work visa.
Having the right to apply for public housing (subject to eligibility).
Having the right to purchase new properties without being charged with Buyers Stamp Duty.
Having the right to vote in local elections.
Having access to healthcare services.
Having access to special rates on hospitalisation.
Having access to basic education.
Having the right to apply for educational loans (subject to eligibility).
How to become a Hong Kong permanent resident
As mentioned above, non-Chinese permanent residents holding either a Dependent visa/ Student visa/ Employment visa under the General Employment Policy/ Investment visa, who have lived in Hong Kong for more than 7 years continuously maybe eligible to apply for the permanent residency status.
Do not get confuse between Hong Kong permanent residents and Hong Kong citizens. The Hong Kong citizens are those who hold (or are eligible to apply for) a Hong Kong passport.
Also note that, the following types of people do not automatically receive the permanent residency status event though they are:
non-permanent residents who have lived in Hong Kong for over 7 years consecutively (they are still required to submit an application for “right to abode”);
children born in Hong Kong to non-permanent resident parents; and
spouses who are married to a Hong Kong permanent resident or Hong Kong citizen.
How to apply?
This is the application for the “Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card”, and the application is free of charge.
2. Applicants must stay in Hong Kong throughout the whole application process.
3. Prior to the application, applicants must ensure that their visas remain valid for the whole application process. If visas are due to expire, visas must be renewed.
4. Fill out one of the “ROP” application forms (i.e. Form ROP145 for non-Chinese applicants).
5. Prepare supporting documents (in photocopied form) including the applicants’:
HKID card (if any);
Travel document showing their current condition of stay in Hong Kong;
Proof of 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong (i.e. school documents, employment proof, income tax receipts, etc);
Parent(s)’ Hong Kong permanent ID cards (when applicant is under 21 years of age who are born in Hong Kong);
Parent(s)’ or legal guardian’s HKID cards or travel documents and proof of relationship (when applicant is under the age of 18).
Note that, when any of these support documents are not in Chinese or English, they must be accompanied by a Chinese or English certified translation.
6. Submission the application form and supporting documents to the Immigration Department by one of the 3 options -
Post to: Right of Abode Section Immigration Department 25/F, Immigration Tower 7 Gloucester Road Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Drop-in boxes at the Immigration Department
Online (https://www.gov.hk/en/residents/immigration/idcard/onlineverifypic.htm), this is where the applicant will fill out the online form and to attach scanned supporting documents.
7. After the submission, the Immigration Department may request for further information from the applicants to support their applications.
8. The applicants will be interviewed by an Immigration Officer. When the Immigration Department is satisfied with the information provided, the applicants will then ask to take an ID photo for their new Hong Kong permanent identity card.
9. The successful applicants’ visa status will immediately replace by the new permanent residency status. Prior to the actual ID card being ready for collection, the successful applicants will be issued with a temporary slip to serve as their ID verification document.
The following people are exempt from the criteria of having to live in Hong Kong for 7 years:
Chinese citizens who are born outside of Hong Kong, and either parent was born in Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.
Non-Chinese citizens who are born in Hong Kong to parents who are Hong Kong permanent residents.
Those who had the Right of Abode before the 1st July 1997.
Loss of Hong Kong permanent resident status
Non-Chinese nationals who have successfully obtained the Hong Kong permanent ID cards may have the right to stay in Hong Kong indefinitely, but they can loss their status if they are absence from Hong Kong for 36 months or more.
Depending on the non-Chinese nationals’ nationality, they may also loss their right to land and are required to apply for the appropriate visa to visit, study and/or work in Hong Kong.
To find out whether a person has lost their permanent residency status and has the right to land in Hong Kong, they can apply for an assessment with the Immigration Department.
If you have any queries about the Hong Kong permanent residency status and how to apply, please contact one of our consultants.