One refrain about the Hong Kong visa process that I have heard constantly down the years is that ‘it’s getting tougher’.
In fact, it always seems to be ‘getting tougher’.
I heard this prior to 1997 when all the British nationals needed to bring their immigration status into line with the arrangements for UK citizens in light of the Handback to China.
I also heard it during the time of the Asian economic crisis, 9/11, the Iraq War, SARS and during the GFC.
In my experience, however, it never really gets tougher, per se.
What tends to happen is that, in times of economic doldrums, the Hong Kong ID will scrutinize marginal employment visa applications more closely, to ensure that, properly stated, job offers extended to foreign national applicants are in fact not best taken up by others from within the local workforce.
It’s worth restating, that this tends to happen only at the very lower end of the employment spectrum, where the compensation on offer is just at or barely above the bare minimum required for approval.
Most other employment visa applicants just have a normal time of it.
Conversely, when the economy is bad is tends to be easier to get investment visas approved.
This is due to the fact that any foreign national who is committing capital to our economy and is manifestly capable of creating a local employment position or 2 through the implementation of a business plan, is mostly warmly welcomed when the economy is not performing especially well.
In so far as the process goes, the Hong Kong Immigration Department tend not to be overly bureaucratic and focus on getting the job done with a bare minimum of fuss.
This means that, unlike so many other jurisdictions, they are usually happy to work with mere copy documents, often those supplied just by fax, in an effort to bring efficiency to the Hong Kong immigration application process.
So no, it’s not getting tougher, it’s always pretty much the same – and has been like this for 20 years at least.
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