Hong Kong can be considered a transit place for many expats. Many of whom stay on a short term with temporary stint on regional office assignment, a couple of years as English teacher before moving to another Asian destination, or simply waking up to a realization that Hong Kong did not meet their expectation after a few years and it’s time to pack up.
Then some fell in love with the charm and contrast of the city, despite challenges such as pollution problems, soaring property prices and prospects of uncertain political climate. They are the ones who endure the ups and downs of Hong Kong and make it through the mandatory seven-year period, after which one can attain the “right of abode” or popularly known as permanent resident of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong permanent resident status is not the same as acquiring Hong Kong citizenship, which means someone is a Chinese citizen and holds a Hong Kong passport. Without giving up your original citizenship, you can still acquire Hong Kong permanent residence status.
Waiting for seven years can be daunting to many newcomers aiming to stay in Hong Kong for the long-term. During such a period, a non-permanent resident expatriate is required to get a working visa to be employed in Hong Kong. Depending on the economic situation, an expat’s stay can be smooth sailing or beset with risks of job cuts that could cut short a foreigner’s stay in Hong Kong unless he or she finds a new visa-sponsoring employer.
To become a Hong Kong permanent resident, one must have lived in the city for seven consecutive years and hold a valid visa such as working visa, dependent visa or student visa. Occasional travel overseas for a reasonable period outside of Hong Kong should be acceptable and counted towards the seven-year eligibility.
Children born in Hong Kong to non-permanent residents do not automatically receive PR status. They would become permanent residents when at least one of their parents becomes a one, as long as that happens before the child turns 21. After that, they would have to meet the 7-year residency requirement, just like those born outside Hong Kong would.
Spouses of permanent residents cannot automatically become permanent residents themselves. They can, however, get dependant visas and wait for seven years before acquiring permanent resident status.
You must maintain such the aforementioned visa status. Otherwise, if you revert to holding a tourist visa once your student or working visa expires, the counting towards your seven-year residency will be broken.
But soon as you have called Hong Kong home for the past seven straight years on an appropriate visa, you should then be able to apply for permanent residence status. It’s not automatic; you have to apply for it.
The processing of your application typically takes six weeks or less.
1) Apply for verification of eligibility (Form ROP 145). It is best to apply at least a month after reaching the seventh year of living in Hong Kong. There have been cases when applications submitted a bit earlier were returned and told to resubmit applications later.
2) Prepare a list of proof of seven years of continuous residence in Hong Kong. Among them are:
- Tax statements
- Utility bills
- Bank statements
- Employment contracts
- School enrollment forms
They are not usually asked but it would be advisable to have them handy in case they are required. These documents are submitted, if requested, on top of your passport and Hong Kong ID.
3) Form ROP 146 will take into account your declaration that you have been living in Hong Kong for the past seven years (or more). As an employee based in the city, renting a Hong Kong flat, paying your taxes, living with your family, children attending local schools, studying in a local university and other factors will also be considered as proof that Hong Kong indeed is what you call home.
Submissions should be made at the Right of Abode Section
|Address :||25th Floor, Immigration Tower,
7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai
Wan Chai MTR Exit A5
|Working Hours :||8:45am – 5:00pm (Mon – Fri)
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays
|Telephone Number :||General Enquiries
Hotline: 2824 6111
Fax-line : 2877 7711
4) You will have to submit the requirements (or minors accompanied by parents or guardians) at the designated Immigration Department office for an interview. What usually happens is a duty officer reviews your filled out form, tells you to complete in case you miss out some fields or requires you to submit additional supporting documentation as listed above.
Once the interview goes well and the officer is satisfied with your application, you will then be asked to take a photo for a replacement ID which will soon bear a “Permanent Residence” status update. But while the ID is not immediately available, a temporary slip will be issued to you and serves as your ID to present for verification when you go to the bank, book a sports facility, etc. until the new ID card has been issued.
Once you have become a full-pledged permanent resident, you’ll only have to be in Hong Kong one day every 36 months.
Benefits for Hong Kong Permanent Residents
- Hong Kong permanent residents have the right to stay in Hong Kong indefinitely.
- Hong Kong permanent residents have the right to work without requiring any working visa.
- Hong Kong permanent residents have the right to apply for public housing subject to eligibility or buy a new apartment without being charged with Buyers Stamp Duty.
- Hong Kong permanent residents have the right to vote in local elections.
- Hong Kong permanent residents have access to special rates on hospitalization.
- Hong Kong permanent residents have access to basic education.
- Hong Kong permanent residents have access to healthcare services such as vaccination,
- Hong Kong permanent residents have access to educational loans for eligible applicants.
Losing Your Status
The usual grounds for losing your Hong Kong permanent residence status is when you are continuously based outside of Hong Kong for 36 months. Although there are other minor reasons, absence for 36 months is usually the reason to get your PR status stripped off.