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How Can I Regain The Right Of Abode In Hong Kong If I Have Been Downgraded To The Right To Land?

April 14th, 2024

Posted in Feature Article, Long Stay & PR, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Your Question Answered /


Getting from the Right to Land to the Right of Abode is the same as coming from a temporary visa to a permanent identity card. It’s all about the magic seven years in Hong Kong… 

Regain the Right of Abode in Hong Kong


I am a UK Citizen with the Right to Land.

I understand that with Right to Land, I have no restriction in staying in Hong Kong apart from I can’t vote. 

After 7 years, I would like to apply for permanent residency again – how do I prove that?  

I do not intend to work and would be living with relatives. 

To supplement my application for permanent residency, would I need to prove my income or need official documents with my name on it e.g. bills or bank accounts?



If you’ve once held the right of abode but have lost it due to you not being in Hong Kong on at least one occasion in a seven year given period, and you have been downgraded to the Right to Land, it is perfectly possible to go on to subsequently reacquire the Right of Abode one more time; and you do this by passing the normal approvability test of showing that you’ve been continuously an ordinarily resident in Hong Kong for a period of not less than seven years, and that any absences from Hong Kong in that time have been of a merely temporary nature, as evidenced by what you leave behind to return back to at the end of each temporary stay abroad, and that you can show to the satisfaction of the right of abode officer that you have remained settled in Hong Kong.

So in your instance, if you are planning to return here but have no need to work, are going to be staying with relatives and, will not be typically generating the kind of documentation that one ordinarily generates during the creation of a life in Hong Kong, so it’s just tenancy agreements such as proof of employment, activities, payments to the Inland Revenue Department and the like. Effectively, if you’re not going to have these in place, then there will be a careful assessment of where you have spent your time; they will call for documents to show that notwithstanding the fact that you haven’t been working, notwithstanding the fact that you haven’t taken any place of your own in terms of where you’re going to live, that you’ve been living with relatives, suitable documentation that speaks to that fact.

In other words, the Immigration Department will look at the realities of where you’ve spent your time and what you’ve been doing, and they will be looking for evidence of settlement. So one would assume that in the seven years, whilst you may not have a tenancy agreement, you may not have a job, you will be engaging in some sort of activities that will allow the Immigration Department to objectively conclude that you’re settled in Hong Kong. This could be club memberships, charitable works, other philanthropic activity, interacting with society through clubs, perhaps things that you do that generate media. Naturally enough, the statement to travel records for the seven years should be acquired from the department and submitted to allow them to readily appreciate where you’ve been during the course of the seven years and how many days you spent in Hong Kong and how much time you spent away.

Therefore, if you don’t have the normal documents, then any other documents which speak to the reality that you have been living your life in Hong Kong full time on a settled basis, and such documents that would ordinarily be generated just by virtue of living an ordinary settled life here. That’s all you need to do.

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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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