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Divorce | Dependent Visa Work In Hong Kong | Swapping To A Work Visa | Can It Be Done?

September 13th, 2023

Posted in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Feature Article /


Dependent Visa Work In Hong Kong After Divorce Or Separation?

How can you go about swapping your dependent visa for a work visa if your marriage has irretrievably broken down?

Dependent Visa Work In Hong Kong?

Dependent visa work in Hong Kong and swapping to a work visa now that your marriage is over or your sponsor-spouse is leaving Hong Kong and you want to stay? Understand the requirements, documents needed, and timeline for securing an employment visa for foreign nationals who have lost their dependent status.


Are you an employer who has recruited a foreign national on a dependent visa? If your employee has lost their dependent status, don’t worry. You can still continue employing them by securing an employment visa. In this guide,  I will walk you through the process of changing from a dependent visa to an employment visa in Hong Kong. We’ll cover the requirements, documents, and timeline to help you navigate this transition smoothly.

Overcoming Hurdles

To secure an employment visa for your employee, you’ll need to overcome several hurdles. Firstly, your applicant must meet the education and experience requirements. Typically, this means having at least a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of two years of post-graduation working experience in a managerial or supervisory capacity. In some cases, the Hong Kong immigration department may accept good technical qualifications, proven professional abilities, and extensive working experience in lieu of a formal university education.

Special Skills, Knowledge, Experience

Additionally, you’ll need to demonstrate that your applicant possesses special skills, knowledge, or experience that are valuable and not readily available in Hong Kong. However, when an applicant is losing dependent status due to a change in personal circumstances, the Immigration Department often relaxes these conditions for approval.

Good Character

Secondly, your applicant must have good character, and the compensation offered for the job must be broadly commensurate with market rates in Hong Kong. This means you cannot hire a foreigner at a lower salary than you would pay a local candidate for the same job.

Locals First

Thirdly, your company must show a local recruitment effort. If no local recruitment exercise has been conducted, an official declaration must be made to explain why. This declaration should be included on the sponsorship form (ID 990).

A Credible Employer

Fourthly, your company must be deemed a suitable and credible employment visa sponsor by the Hong Kong immigration department. This requires having a well-established company with a properly set up office and a track record of employing Hong Kong locals.

Documents Required

Lastly, both the employer and the employee will need to provide various documents for the employment visa application. However, if your company has had an employment visa approved within the last 18 months, the documentation required from the employer will be significantly reduced.

Application Process and Timelines

The application process for changing from a dependent visa to an employment visa usually takes between four and six weeks to be finalized by the immigration department. It is crucial to submit the application well in advance of the dependent visa’s expiration date. Under no circumstances should the employee begin their new employment duties before the application has been approved. There are no exceptions to this rule.

To ensure a smooth transition, it is recommended to apply for the employment visa at least eight weeks before the dependent visa is due to expire. This allows the employee to continue working while the Hong Kong immigration department considers the employment visa application.

Last Words …

If you have recruited a foreign national on a dependent visa who has subsequently lost their dependent status, you have the option to continue employing them by securing an employment visa. By meeting the education, experience, character, and local recruitment requirements, as well as submitting the necessary documentation, you can successfully navigate the process. Remember to allow ample time for the application to be processed and to comply with the rule of not allowing the employee to start their new duties until the employment visa is approved.



Dependant Visa Work In Hong Kong




dependent visa work in hong kong

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The Hong Kong Visa Geeza (a.k.a Stephen Barnes) is a co-founder of the Hong Kong Visa Centre and author of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook. A law graduate of the London School of Economics, Stephen has been practicing Hong Kong immigration since 1993 and is widely acknowledged as the leading authority on business immigration matters here for the last 24 years.

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