Like most countries, Hong Kong offers a pathway to residency for entrepreneurs looking to set up businesses in the city. The Hong Kong Entrepreneurship Visa, or officially known as the Entry for Investment Visa, is available to foreigners to acquire landing, entry, and residency rights as an employee of their own HK registered company.
It's a complex process, so we’ve put together this guide on how to get the Hong Kong Entrepreneurship Visa, including all prerequisites, documents, and other items needed.
Investment Requirements for the Entrepreneurship Visa
In Hong Kong, there are no specified investment requirements, and the processing of the investment will be determined by whether or not the initial investment amount meets your business plan’s intentions adequately
Overall, the Hong Kong government’s main concern about foreign businesses opening in Hong Kong, is whether foreign entrepreneurs can prove that their business will contribute to the local economy in Hong Kong. So be sure this is reflected in your business plan.
Personal Criteria Before Applying
- You must not have any criminal records or security objections from the Hong Kong police background check (completed from entry to the HK SAR and further during application process).
- You must possess some form of educational background, diploma, certificate, or other proof that you have some relevant skills related to your field.
- You must prove that your business will utilize local workforce or otherwise create jobs for the local workforce and at every attempt, engage with local suppliers, manufacturers, and service providers if possible. (this will be covered in more details later)
- You must register your Hong Kong company prior to applying for the visa. Refer to this guide for more information on how to apply for Hong Kong company registration.
Required Documents for the HK Entrepreneurship Visa (Applicant)
- Application Form ID999A
- A copy of your passport (if you are currently in Hong Kong, include the page with the latest immigration entry stamp)
- A copy of your Hong Kong identity card (if applicable)
- A copy or proof of the applicant’s financial standing (e.g. bank statement)
- A copy of any relevant diploma, certificate, or proof of skills and qualifications
- A copy of the Company’s Employment Contract detailing your post, salary, and other fringe benefits.
- A thorough 2-year business plan which should have all information about your company’s proposed business activities, amount of investment, creation of local job posts (it’s encouraged that if you are indeed hiring, screenshots of online job boards of your JDs are a big help), setting up of office or warehouse, and any other supporting documents and proof.
- A copy of the Business Registration Certificate obtained by the Inland Revenue Department, and other registration particulars related to the Hong Kong company registration.
- A copy of proof of your overseas address.
Required Documents for the HK Entrepreneurship Visa (Sponsor)
There are 2 different types of sponsors for Entrepreneurship Visas in Hong Kong. Here are the required documents for each sponsor type.
If the sponsor is a Company
- A completed Application Form ID999B
- A Copy of the Company Registration Certificate
- While not listed on the HK Immigration Department website, normal work visa company requirements may include a full tax audit request, so if applicable, the sponsoring company should prepare a tax audit just in case.
If the sponsor is an Individual
- A Completed Application Form ID999B
- A copy of the sponsor’s Hong Kong identity card
- A copy of the sponsor’s passport
Prepare a Business Plan
The Hong Kong government’s main concern with foreign businesses, as mentioned before, is whether the business will provide to the local economy, mainly by creating jobs for locals, and utilizing local suppliers and manufacturers in the course of doing business.
The business plan must be a 2-year plan, this document should detail your Business idea, product, or services, market analysis that shows potential growth, your operating plan, and team makeup.
Your business plan will be scrutinized in 3 other areas, again, underscored by the ability to provide to the local economy in Hong Kong, and these areas are as such:
1. Capital Investment Scrutinization
While the actual number of capital is not required by the government, the business plan must show that the capital investment is enough to cover the business plan’s scope for at least 3 to 6 months. It’s advised that you enclose financial documents such as bank statements, loans, credit lines, etc. It’s also a bonus to include any new technology or invention that your business could bring to Hong Kong, this can include patents.
2. Proposed Business Vehicle
While no documents here are required, it’s advisable that the company vehicle be a limited liability company rather than a sole proprietorship or partnership.
3. Suitable Business Premises Documentation
Show documents that the premises of the business are adequate or otherwise fit the nature of your business proposal. This may even include a full copy of the lease if requested by the immigration department.
Prepare a Business Plan (for Startups)
Hong Kong provides certain pathways to Entrepreneurship Visas if the company is a start up that was seeded, or otherwise shuttled into Hong Kong registry from a government-backed startup funding/acceleration programs.
The following documents/requirements startups in these programs are below and must be attached to the regular business plan as detailed above.
- StartmeupHK Venture Program (administered by InvestHK)
- Incu-App, Incu-Bio, and Incu-Tech programmes (administered by the HK Science and Technology Parks Corp.)
- Cyberport Incubation Program
- Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Program, and Enterprise Support Scheme (Administered by the Innovation and Technology Commission)
- Design Incubation Program (administered by the Hong Kong Design Center)
- The application and associated supporting documents must be delivered to the Hong Kong Immigration Department by Post.
- The application process time is extremely varied and can take as little as 4 weeks, to 5 months.
- If the application is successful, you can pick up your Visa/Entry Permit at the immigration office in-person. You may need to exit the HK SAR and return to activate the visa after your next entry.
- If the application fails, you may appeal for a new application, ideally after you’ve been told/identified the problem areas of your supporting documents and amended the issues.
Renewing a visa for an Entrepreneurship Visa holder is exactly the same as any other employment visa type in Hong Kong
Should you need to renew your visa in Hong Kong, you must submit a visa renewal application ID 91 form at least 4 weeks prior to the last day of the visa’s expiration date.
Once the application is submitted, it should only take 4 to 6 weeks to process the renewal. The renewal process will likely follow the 2-2-3 year pattern until Permanent residence is acquired.
Once you have been approved for your Entrepreneurship Visa, you'll be granted the Right of Landing and Entry for the Hong Kong administrative region and you'll be able pick up your Hong Kong ID card on the same day as you pick up your visa.
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