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Will My Hong Kong Employment Visa be Compromised If I Leave My Job Due to Intolerable Working Conditions?

January 7th, 2024

Posted in Employment Visas, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza, Your Question Answered /


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Hello, my current employer and visa sponsor is a small business, and my working conditions are intolerable – twice the amount of hours than stated on the contract, poor pay, fines for sick days off and unexplained additional fines deducted from my salary without notice nor explanation, plus late payment of salary.

I have been with them for seven months and paid to get here myself.

They have also asked me to lie to the inland revenue to say my contract started two months after it did – because it took me two months to get a free day to go to Macau and activate my visa.

It’s all very shabby.

Three other similar staff have ‘left in the night’ because there is a HK$25,000 fee to leave the contract (plus work two months unpaid, and pay another undisclosed fee for leaving without serving two months notice).

I have another company who will sponsor me and I would like to know if I can release my sponsorship with my present employer myself, or do they have the power to refuse the release and transfer of my visa to another company?

Can they stop me working anywhere else if I walk?

I can not continue working in these conditions, but I do not want to leave Hong Kong and I have other employers waiting.

Am I trapped please?

Thank you very much in advance for any advice you can give.


Not being an employment lawyer I can’t offer any comment as to your remedies for the seemingly intolerable situation you find yourself in.

As regards your employment contract with your current employer I suggest that you contact the Labor Department for some provisional information on how to deal with the problems that you’re facing in that employment.

Or indeed obviously contact an employment lawyer. However, in so far as immigration goes you’re on the pretty much safe ground in so far as if you determine for one reason or another that you wish to cease working for your current employer and you wish to make an application to take up employment with a new employer, then that’s all perfectly doable.

The Immigration Department doesn’t hold you to any particular employer and the employment visa is personable to you. It doesn’t accrue to the employer so your current employer has no means of in a sense holding a gun to your head as regards your ability to stay in Hong Kong due to the fact that you no longer want to work in those intolerable working conditions.

As part and parcel of any employment visa change of sponsorship application for that’s what it would be, you’d have to submit a copy of your resignation letter or possibly a document in writing from your current employer indicating when your exact final date of employment while so that the Immigration Department can demarcate your old employment through to your new employment and adjust the sponsorship of your visa accordingly.

As long as you’re moving from one employment type to a similar employment type that is it’s like for like employment and that the minimum salary and compensation levels are being met under the general employment policy – give or take about sixteen thousand Hong Kong dollars a month. And of course, your new employer, proposed new employer is deemed by the Immigration Department to be a suitable and credible sponsor.

Then in those circumstances, your immigration status should be readily adjustable without too much of a do.

So, no you and you’re not locked into this particular employer and if you want to leave, do so. Address whatever problems you’ve got from the contract perspective through the use of the proper channels. But in so far as immigration goes you’ll be more than capable of making that adjustment if for immigration sponsorship without too many problems at all.

Okay, good luck with it all and I hope you found this useful.


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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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