Hong Kong immigration

Wow, I LOVE THIS BOARD. It posts my thread twice, and appears to have eaten the message both times. Sorry.

I have found some information on this subject on websites, but I haven’t been able to get advice from real people. I know there are at least a couple of HK-based expats here, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

My position is this. I want to attempt to live in HK on a work permit and, unless I hate it for some reason, eventually get permanent residence after I’ve done my five years or whatever it is. The problem is, the typical “businessman” route doesn’t look very viable as that’s not something I have the skills or experience for. I will be graduating from college with a degree in Chinese and Political Science and a lot of Cantonese under my belt, but other than language skills (which are far from interpreter-level, especially given the number of English-speakers in the city) I don’t have much to offer the typical upper-crust, foreigner-hiring business in HK. I am thinking I will start on a student visa as that is easy to get. Unfortunately it is, at least officially, illegal to work on a student visa. I’ve done it, but obviously I’m not sure if I can put it in my resume, and VERY unsure I can use a job like that to my advantage in getting to stay.

I’m not a real go-getter with the womenfolk, so residency by marriage would be an unexpected windfall, not inevitable.

The official requirements obviously sound a little tough for somebody like me to meet, but naturally there are always ways to work the system. Does anybody here have any advice or links?

Well, it looks like the other one DID make it through. Could someone please clean up my mess? Thanks.

It takes 7 years to qualify for permanent residency.

Assuming you have no HK connection at the moment, you need a work visa to work legally in HK. To get that, you need to find an employer in HK to convince the authorities you have skills unavailable locally. English and Cantonese do NOT count. The visa goes with the job - change jobs and you have to get a new work visa. The first visa needs to be issued while you are outside HK, but if you change after you’re here, I think you can stay during the processing stage.

(The South China Morning Post website has help wanted ads to give you an idea of what’s on offer - unemployment is a major problem right now, though mainly among the unskilled.) http://www.classifiedpost.com/jshome.php

An alternative is to start a business here. They’ll issue a visa quite easily, though you can’t work outside that business. And, yes, getting a student visa is very easy - colleges are being encouraged to take more overseas students.

If you’re really desperate to move to this part of the world, I would do an English-teaching course and try Mainland China. Alternatively, Singapore has a fairly open system for foreign graduates (I believe you can get a work visa issued after you arrive as a tourist, provided the salary is above a certain amount).

If it HAS to be HK and you have no applicable work experience , I would recommend coming here to study. There’s a reasonable chance of being allowed to stay on and work afterwards if you find an employer who’s willing to apply for you (unlike many US working visas, the application process here is cheap and fast).

(An Irish guy I knew was working illegally in a bar here a few years back. When his 6-month, visa-free tourist entry period came up, he went to the Immigration Dept and begged for an extension on the {BS} grounds he was a poet and was writing. They gave it to him.)

Any questions, feel free to ask.

Aw, Hemlock, just the man I was hoping would see this.

Although I have considered trying to get work in Taiwan or the mainland as a stepping stone for getting to Hong Kong, HK is indeed where I want to be in the end, which means that my lack of solid corporate suit-and-tie job experience is my biggest worry. I do have experience tutoring Chinese students here and teaching English there (the aforementioned illegal- but spectacularly high-paying- job. This might count as at least some kind of connection. I don’t know what my boss thought of my work- given the situation I was put into it would’ve been hard for anybody to effectively teach a language- but our relationship was very friendly and extended to off-hours) so I do have that, but then, teaching jobs are pretty much thrown at anybody white who’s not obviously a complete schmuck.

I have studied there and assume that will probably be how I at least start my next trip back. So in that case the issue would largely be finding an employer willing to put in the time for me, huh? If that happened, could I simply change the status of the visa to a year-long work visa and be free of the “no work” restriction on student visas?

Also, can you refresh my memory on student visas? If I recall, mine was for three months, which was as long as the program I was in allowed for. Could I apply for a longer one as necessary, or would I have to pull some kind of border-hopping stunt every three months?

Thanks a lot Hemlock. Sorry if it’s a bit forward of me, but do you think I could get your e-mail for future reference? All the HK people I know are native-born or the children of naturalized residents.

Oops, that’s not quite right. I should say as long as the program REQUIRED.

I’m going to give this just one bump since it’s important to me.

My email is attached below. I’m not an expert in this field, but feel free to ask whatever you want. I’m pretty sure if you come out here on a student visa, the visa will last as long as the course. No automatic work visa as a result (though illicit work is not hard to get). As I say, you might make some contacts here that will enable you to get one.