Hong Kong offers a path for entrepreneurs that look to set up businesses in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Investment Visa, or Entrepreneurship Visa, is officially known as the entry for Investment as Entrepreneur in Hong Kong. It allows individuals, who have permanent residence overseas, to acquire landing, entry, and residency rights by being an employee of their own Hong Kong registered company. This visa is part of the General Employment Policy (G. E. P) to obtain a Hong Kong employment visa.
As the immigration process is a complex and delicate matter, Statrys has put together a comprehensive guide on how to get a Hong Kong Investment Visa, including requirements, prerequisites, documents, and other considerations to increase the chances of having a successful application.
Requirements for the Investment Visa
Although there is no minimum amount of investment or other financial resources specified in this scheme, the business plan will be the determining factor to set the initial investment amount. In this sense, it is expected that the amount will serve the purpose of covering the expenses for the correct operations of the intended business for a certain period until it is profitable or sustainable.
Overall, the Hong Kong government’s main concern about the business investment visa program is that foreigners can open a business in Hong Kong and that they can prove that entrepreneurs can contribute to the local economy in Hong Kong. So be sure this is reflected in your business plan.
All the eligibility criteria
The applicants interested in the visa investment scheme must fulfill the following requirements:
- No criminal records or security objections from the Hong Kong police background check (completed from entry to the Hong Kong SAR and further during the application process).
- Provide a diploma, certificate, or other proof that you have some relevant skills related to your field and the corresponding educational background.
- Assurance that the intended business will utilize the local workforce, or otherwise generate jobs created locally for the local workforce and, at every attempt, engage with local suppliers, manufacturers, and service providers. More details will be discussed.
- The registration of a Hong Kong company before applying for an investment visa is required. Refer to this guide for more information on how to apply for a Hong Kong Company’s Business Registration Certificate.
Cases when Investment Visa does not apply
Besides the above-mentioned criteria of the investment visa application, it is important to mention that this type of visa does not apply to the following cases:
- Nationals of the following countries: Cuba, Laos, Afghanistan, Nepal, Vietnam, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
- Chinese residents living in Mainland China: For Mainland Chinese residents, there is the “Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals”, exclusive to them.
Application for an Investment Visa for individuals
Here we enlist all the required documents needed for the visa application process:
- The application Form ID999A with the corresponding details.
- A passport copy. If the applicant is located in Hong Kong, the page with the latest immigration entry stamp or landing slip should be provided.
- A copy of the Hong Kong identity card, if applicable.
- A copy or proof of the applicant’s financial standing. For example, a current 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 should have all information about your company’s proposed business activities, amount of investment, and creation of local job posts. It is encouraged to provide proof, such as screenshots, of the online job posting with the specific tasks and job descriptions, setting up of the office or warehouse, and any other supporting documents.
- A copy of the Business Registration Certificate obtained by the Inland Revenue Department, and other business registration particulars and personal particulars related to the Hong Kong company registration.
- A copy of the applicant’s address and proof of residing overseas.
Application for an Investment Visa through a Sponsor
There are 2 different types of sponsors for Investment Visas in Hong Kong. All the required documents, for each sponsor type, are listed below:
If the sponsor is a Company
- An application Form ID999B with the corresponding details.
- A copy of the company’s Business Registration Certificate.
- The Hong Kong Immigration Department may require the latest tax standing of the Hong Kong company, as well the latest audited financial report. These are normal immigration requirements for Hong Kong visas and must be provided if applicable.
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.
Business plan for Individuals
The Hong Kong government’s main concern with foreign businesses, as mentioned before, is whether the business will improve the local economy, mainly by creating jobs for locals, and utilizing local suppliers and manufacturers in the course of the business lifetime.
The business plan must consider 2 years. The document should detail the intended business idea, product, or services that will be featured. Additional details such as market analysis and market positioning that shows potential growth, your operating plan, and team makeup.
As the main goal is to improve Hong Kong’s economy and generate local jobs, special attention should be paid to the following 3 areas when preparing a business plan:
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 operations for at least 3 to 6 months. It is advised to enclose financial documents such as bank statements, loans, credit lines, etc. Additionally, any new technology, invention or patents that the business could bring to Hong Kong, will highly benefit the review process.
Proposed Business Vehicle
While no documents here are required, the company vehicle of choice should be a limited liability company, rather than a sole proprietorship or partnership, due to its flexibility and protection to the shareholders.
Suitable Business Premises Documentation
Documents showing that the proposed premises for the business are adequate, or otherwise fit for the nature of your business proposal, are essential. This may even include a full copy of the lease agreement if requested by the Immigration Department.
Business Plan for Startups
Hong Kong facilitates Investment Visas for Startups that were seeded, or otherwise shuttled into the Hong Kong Registry, from a government-backed startup funding or acceleration program.
The following documents and requirements for startups in these programs, are below and must be attached to the regular business plan as detailed above:
- StartmeupHK Venture Program (administered by InvestHK).
- Incubation, and Incu-Bio programs (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).
Considerations for the Application Process
- 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 and up to 5 months.
- If the application is successful, you can pick up your Visa/Entry Permit at the Immigration Department Office in person. You may need to leave Hong Kong and return to activate the investment visa after your next entry.
- If the application fails, an appeal for a new investment visa application can be filed. Ideally, after reviewing and identifying the reason or the areas to improve, together with the amended documents.
After Receiving the Approval
Congratulations! Once the Investment Visa has been approved, the applicant will be granted the Right of Landing and Entry into the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Furthermore, the applicant will be able to pick up their Hong Kong ID card and their visa, on the same day.
Investment Visa Renewals
Renewing an investment visa for an entrepreneur is the same as any other employment visa in Hong Kong
In order to renew an investment visa in Hong Kong, the applicant must submit a visa renewal application ID 91 form, at least 4 weeks before the visa’s expiration date.
Once the application is submitted, it should only take 4 to 6 weeks to process the renewal.
As we have seen in this article, in the process to apply for a Hong Kong Investment visa, there are several steps involved. Although individuals can apply for themselves, it is important to consider guidance from the experts. First-time applicants can get a better understanding of the process, as well as the proper way of presenting the supporting documents that are needed to be submitted to the authorities. A well-prepared application can be the right way to start a successful business project.