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Work Visa Transfer Hong Kong | A Multi-Media D-I-Y Guide | 100% Free

September 3rd, 2023

Posted in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Feature Article, Musing /


The Ultimate D-I-Y Guide to Transferring Your Work Visa in Hong Kong

Work Visa Transfer Hong Kong | What You and Your Family Need to Know | All-In-One-Place

Work visa transfer Hong Kong? While our General Employment Policy (GEP) is designed to attract skilled foreign talent, the process of transferring an existing work visa to a new employer is often complex and nuanced.

This comprehensive D-I-Y guide aims to demystify the work visa transfer process in Hong Kong, with a special focus on the implications for family members holding dependent visas.

Key Criteria for Work Visa Transfer

Educational and Professional Background

One of the first steps in a work visa transfer Hong Kong is ensuring you meet the initial criteria. This usually involves having a solid educational background, typically a bachelor’s degree, along with at least two years of post-graduation experience in a managerial or supervisory role. However, the Hong Kong Immigration Department may also consider technical qualifications and extensive relevant work experience as a substitute for formal education.

Good Character

Maintaining a clean record is crucial when transferring your employment visa. You must be of good character, meaning no security objections or serious criminal records should be present.

Compensation Package

Your new employment offer should meet or exceed market standards. The compensation package must be on par with or better than your previous role to ensure fairness and compliance with local employment laws.

Employer’s Role

Your new employer plays a significant role in the transfer process. They must be a suitable and credible sponsor, meaning they should be well-established and have a history of employing Hong Kong locals.

Local Recruitment Efforts

The new employer must also demonstrate local recruitment efforts for the role you are taking unless your salary exceeds HKD 2 million per annum or your role is on the Talent List published by the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

The Transfer Process


The paperwork involved in a visa transfer is similar to that of a new application. However, if your new employer has had an employment visa approved within the last 24 months, the documentation needed is significantly reduced. This can expedite the process and reduce the administrative burden on both parties.

Processing Time

The transfer process typically takes between four to six weeks. It’s crucial not to commence your new role until the transfer has been officially approved. Starting your new job before approval could jeopardize both your status and that of your dependent family members.

Communication with ImmD

The Immigration Department may communicate via various channels, including email, fax, or snail mail, and may request additional information. You are generally expected to respond within 14 days, although flexibility can be provided.

Approval Formalities

Once the work visa transfer Hong Kong is approved, you will be notified and invited to complete the approval formalities. These may vary depending on how you submitted your application but usually involve the issue of a new QR code approval letter (if an extension of stay has been granted at the same time) or a simple letter confirming your approval and the present date of your work visa expiry (usually more than 12 months hence). Occasionally an in-person visit to the Immigration Department is called for.

Implications for Family

One of the most pressing concerns for many professionals is how the work visa transfer Hong Kong process will affect their family members who are holding dependent visas. The good news is that while your change of employer application is ongoing, there is no change in the dependent visa permissions of your accompanying family. However, you will need to inform the Immigration Department about the change in your employment status as it could have implications for the renewal of dependent visas.

Renewal of Dependent Visas

Typically, dependent visas are linked to the employment status of the principal visa holder. Therefore, any change in the employment status, like a job transfer, does not invoke a re-evaluation of the dependent visas. If the main work visa holder gets an extension at the time of the approval, the accompanying family dependant visas are extended too. Best to include the family extension of stay applications together with the main application work visa transfer application if the family visas have less than 90 days remaining

The Twilight Zone

If your current limit of stay is set to expire while your transfer application is being processed, you may find yourself in the “Twilight Zone.” This is a period where your existing visa has expired, but you are allowed to remain in Hong Kong while waiting for the new visa approval. During this period, your family members on dependent visas are also allowed to stay in Hong Kong but technically are not permitted to engage in work or education activities until their, like the main applicant’s, visa and extension of stay is approved. Rarely do ImmD prosecute for breach of conditions of stay in these circumstances but technically all bets are off until the new limits of stay are approved.

Last Words …

Transferring an employment visa in Hong Kong is a detailed and often complex process that requires careful planning, timely communication, and strict adherence to Immigration Department guidelines. The process becomes even more intricate when family members on dependent visas are involved. However, you can navigate these complexities more effectively by understanding the nuances and requirements of the visa transfer process.

For more information, you can consult Hong Kong Visa Sherpa which offers a comprehensive D-I-Y guide on the visa Hong Kong work visa transfer process.

By being well-informed and prepared, you can make your employment visa transfer in Hong Kong a seamless experience, allowing you to continue your professional journey in this dynamic city while ensuring that your family’s stay remains uninterrupted.

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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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