Is it ever legal to work in Hong Kong – especially on a short term basis – with a Visitor Status – without the permission of the Director of Immigration?
I am a UK based one person limited company and have been asked by a major financial services company with a business based in Hong Kong to undertake 10 ~ 15 days consulting work there as a one-off exercise.
I will not be setting up business in Hong Kong and will return to the UK at the end of the visit.
Can I do this work under the visitor visa and do I need anything additional such as a work permit?
This happens frequently enough – you’ve been invited to Hong Kong and you need to undertake a piece of work on a short-term basis.
You get enough status when you arrive as a visitor at the airport, but does the visitor visa status that you get actually make you lawfully employable under any conditions in Hong Kong?
When it comes to undertaking any kind of work in Hong Kong the law is very clear, you can’t take up any kind of employment in the HKSAR without first having secured the consent of the director of Immigration. And whether that employment is for a long or short term duration and whether you’re going to get paid here or whether you’re going to get paid overseas or in fact if you even want to get paid it all.
Work in Hong Kong requires the permission of the Immigration Department. So if this works in practice is that you’d make an application four to six weeks before you’re expecting to arrive to do your couple of weeks’ worth of consulting. The Immigration Department receives the papers from you, It should be sponsored by the party that’s bringing in you to Hong Kong and offering you this opportunity to do the consulting work.
There will be documentation required, it will be straightforward exercise. The Immigration Department understand what it is you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve through this application for a work permit and therefore you’ll get a work visa that will last for the time that you need to be in Hong Kong to do that work.
So, just because it’s a palava to apply and just because you get a visitor visa upon arrival as a British National that’s going to get you six months may make it practical for you not to bother with the visa but that will not make it legal, and my advice is to make the application, get it sponsored by the party that’s bringing you in, four to six weeks before, you should get the application approved without any difficulty and then it will be completely legal.
Don’t be tempted to break the law, it’s not worth it.