Meeting the criteria
Individuals applying to live and work in Hong Kong are sometimes surprised by the time and detail the process requires.
What they perhaps forget is that even a city ranked regularly as one of the world's freest economies must maintain reasonable controls over the number of inbound arrivals seeking work, and ensure each case is assessed on its merits.
'You hear all sorts of different stories about the ease or difficulty of the resident-visa application process,' says Dowson Yun, director of Lloyden Consultancy, a firm specialising in immigration services. 'But the fact is that no two situations are exactly the same.'
Misunderstandings arise when people assume that all professionals apply for the same type of visa. In reality, an individual's background, experience and special qualifications - plus the size and needs of the local 'hiring entity' - determine different categories.
For example, the applicant can be classified as an employee or business owner. There are no guarantees, but for a small business or start-up, being an owner can be more straightforward. Options also exist under the Capital Investment Scheme - often referred to as the HK$10 million scheme - and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme.
Knowing which route to take is not just a matter of reading the rules and completing a checklist. It is also important to understand the local context and avoid incorrect assumptions.
'Immigration officers will use their discretion to consider each application,' Yun says. 'People usually focus too much on what documents are required, without understanding the true requirement of each type of application.' His firm provides support and guidance, and its services include offering tailor-made advice, revising all documents prior to submission, and managing the overall process.
If required, experts will also review the presentation of business plans to make sure they 'fit' the requirements of the Immigration Department and already answer all the expected questions.
In addition, the firm keeps close track of the progress of each application, helping field requests that may come up for further information or clarification.
'We review such requests on our clients' behalf to make sure they are reasonable and valid,' says Yun, who has been advising on immigration matters for more than 15 years.
'Our experience and thorough understanding mean we are able to foresee possible issues and, for example, assist a lot of foreign small and medium-sized enterprises with their plans to start up in Hong Kong.'