china visa application

July 11, 2021

It came to my attention recently that a few travellers china visa application have had problems and issues getting visas services for hong kong. Everyone wants to visit the world’s most populated country so I’m here with my latest visa advice for China!! I’m heading to China again soon for my 6th visit and I want to explain an easy and simple way for you travellers to get your China Visa – it’s easy! All you need to do is… get yourself to HONG KONG!

In terms of defining a country, as far as I’m concerned Hong Kong is one. It has its own currency, flag, visa regulations and national football team. It was also British for a while, and that ended back in 1997. These days, lots of nationalities can get to Hong Kong without a Visa. You will get a stamp on arrival at the airport. If you arrive on a UK passport you can stay for 180 days no problem! A lot of nationalities also get a 90 day entry stamp – check with your embassy.

Hong Kong borders China, and there are about 5-6 different border entry points. I have passed through 4 of them in the last 12 months. But before you get there you will need a valid China Visa, unless you are Chinese or a nationality that doesn’t require one (possibly Cuba or other ‘Communist’ countries – check with your embassy).

There are literally hundreds of places in Hong Kong to get a China Visa and as far as I can tell, being in Hong Kong is by far and away the easiest and best way to get your visa for China, outside your home country, which as global nomads we are scarcely in.

So in Hong Kong… if you walk around Tsim Sha Tsui (particularly near the notorious Chung King Mansions on Nathan Road) people will just shout “China visa” at you and certainly they will sort you out very easily with a China Visa but most likely they will charge for the service and get you a single entry visa only. These guys that roam the streets of TST selling visas and the like are good if you need one quickly – make sure everything is valid when you’re with them – office, proper forms etc. (the form on the photo below is the front page of the current real China Visa Application). But you’re better to find an agency yourself, read on…
These days, I get double or multiple entry visas for China. But my first ever China Visa was a single entry, so do that for starters unless you are planning two trips. So where should I get the Visa done? Well as I mentioned there are countless agencies that do them in Hong Kong (and although it might be cheaper to go to the Embassy – DON’T). Use an agency. You’ll get your Visa easily, no problem, on time and can collect even after normal closing hours. They will even help you fill in the form and if you don’t have the things you need they will tell you what to do. These agencies often open all day Saturday, weekday nights and some even a half or part day Sunday. Yes, I know agencies charge a bit more and I’m a budget traveller but I also believe that “time is money” and these agencies are fast and helpful so they save you time. An agency I have used recently is and recommend is: China Travel Service (Hong Kong)

I recommend it – they have a lot of branches but believe me just turn up in Tsim Sha Tsui or Mong Kok and wander round the streets and you will see a place doing China Visas.

The link above contains all the information you will need, but I’ll shorten it for you here to make it easy, these are the things you need:

1. A valid passport with more than 6 months and 2 empty pages left in it

2. One passport photo

3. A completed Application Form, the key points are:

– They will ask for entrance point – always put Shenzhen as that way they know you are crossing the border on foot – which you will do if you go HK – China. I’ve always put Shenzhen. Thousands of tourists and business travellers pass the Hong Kong to Shenzhen border every day.

– They will ask for for expected date of travel – just make this up if you don’t know when you are heading – you will have three months (I think) from the date printed on the visa to enter. No big deal this question.

– There is a section for hotel/where you are staying. I normally just write a hotel name in the city I’m visiting on that trip, or write – staying with friends. On none of my 4 recent trips have I actually stayed in the place I wrote on the form. They never check. If they do then you will need to book a hostel or hotel online and print it to show them (I’ve never heard of this actually happening though).

– Do you have Medical Insurance? Just write ‘No’ in the box. Trust me!

– Type of Visa – I advise if this is your first time to get a SINGLE ENTRY. It’s no risk as there is a slight chance that they may not give you a DOUBLE ENTRY straight away. Once you have your single or double entries, next up apply for a multiple entry (I’m lucky at present that I have a valid HK ID card so a multiple entry is no problem)

4. Payment (this varies depending on nationality – a single entry can be between 350 – 500 Hong Kong Dollars (less than £40 or $50 US)

5. Attend in person to hand in the form and voila!!

You also have the option of collecting it in a rush in ONE working day (for an extra cost), 2-3 working days (extra cost) or just what I do – regular 4 – 7 working days (the normal price).

SO there you have it folks! It’s easy to get a China Visa in Hong Kong. What are you waiting for? Get out there and see it!! China is an amazing country and to be honest it’s one you should never neglect. I’ve been 6 times and counting! Here’s 3 top photo highlights so far to get you in the mood to do China!!

Our client was a French national with a wife and 5 year old daughter – all of them, French citizens.

He had first arrived in Hong Kong in 2004 as a student to undertake an MBA programme at the University of Hong Kong.

Upon graduation in 2006, he joined a European investment bank where he worked continuously until 2010 when he was made redundant as part of the banking challenges associated with the GFC.

At the time he instructed us, he had an employment visa sponsored by his ex-employing investment bank with a 2 year period of stay endorsed inside his passport, taking him up just short of the complete 7 year time frame for the purposes of an application for the Right of Abode.

In 2010, with the chances of him gaining further employment in the investment banking game unlikely in the near term, our client decided to start a French wine importing business – but did not apply for an adjustment in his immigration status to allow him to be able to do this. He really needed an investment visa but had never bothered to get one.

As the period of stay availed by the investment bank expired 6 weeks before he would have been continuously resident for the 7 years needed for a Right of Abode application, he decided that he would take him family out of Hong Kong at the time his employment visa expired and bring them all back in as visitors, gaining a 90 day period of stay when they entered, waited six weeks, then submitted an application for the Right of Abode.

This was in 2011, 2 weeks before he asked for our help.

At the time of his application, he didn’t realise that you can’t apply for the Right of Abode if you have a visitor visa. You need to be ‘resident’ at the time you apply. Instead he and his family were ‘visiting’. The Hong Kong Immigration Department knocked back his application for permanent residency on this ground and so he found his way to us.

The key issues in this application were:

1 – the fact of his visitor visa status at the time he applied for the Right of Abode.

2 – the 11 months he had been working his French wine import business, unapproved by the Hong Kong Immigration authorities.

3 – as a prior student from HKU he could take advantage as a ‘returning graduate’ and be afforded ‘positive consideration’ for any application that he might make in order to take up a new job in Hong Kong (for which he’d need an offer of employment from a suitably qualified sponsor).

Coincidentally, just after our client approached us for advice, an ex-colleague of his from the investment bank where he had worked for four years previously, asked him to come and consult on an energy project in the Philippines.

This ex-colleague had, three years prior, provided consulting services through his own, newly established one-man company and had turned over HKD10 million in consulting fees in the first 18 months. However, the project had come to a temporary halt, as these things often do, as certain government approvals processes played themselves out.

The project has been in a temporary hiatus but had, just recently, been reactivated in light of the Philippines government providing whatever consents had been necessary for it to progress to the next phase.

Consequently, and somewhat out of the blue, our client received an offer of employment from his ex-colleague for him to assist him in the next phase of the energy project.

This was good news on the one hand, but on the other, the employing business was still very much a ‘brass plaque’ consulting concern which had been effectively dormant for the last 18 months.

On the plus side, it had a strong balance sheet and also had a receipt from the Hong Kong Inland Revenue for more than HKD1 million it had paid in profits tax the year before. It also had a formal notification from its sole client that the energy project was now recommencing and thus was manifestly ready to re-engage in providing services once more.

We advised our client that this could be a heaven sent opportunity for us to secure an employment visa for him (with dependent visas for his wife and daughter) relying on the relaxed application consideration criteria which the Hong Kong Immigration Department afford to non local graduates of Hong Kong Universities.

We did, on the other hand, counsel that as the sponsoring employer was pretty much still a shell of an operation, there would be some tussling with the Immigration Department to persuade them of its bona fides as a quality employment visa sponsor.

As expected, we locked horns with the Department about the quality of the sponsor and had several exchanges with them each time providing them with more information, proof of the good prospects for the business and the critical role our client was going to be playing in its operations.

Finally, we suggested to the HKID that they approve our client’s employment visa subject to Business Review at the end of 12 months, a not unusual proposition, but suitable in the circumstances. The Hong Kong Immigration Department agreed and our client and his family’s applications were duly approved subject to this condition.

As the strategy all along had been to provide our client with a residence visa for the purposes of his Right of Abode application, the fact of this Business Review was ultimately unimportant because it would only come into play if our client applied for an extension to his new employment visa 12 months down the road.

In fact, two months after this, their Right of Abode applications were approved and so Business Review was never an issue. The really good news is that this client is now providing consulting services to the energy project AND running his French wine importing business quite lawfully as a permanent resident.

There are about 15,000 Hong Kong employment visas granted each year. Every one of these applications is unique with its own particular qualities and circumstances.

Consequently the application of the approvability test for permission to work in the HKSAR, obviously, differs from case to case. The test for approval places a burden on the applicant to show that he or she possesses special skills knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong. Additionally, the proposed sponsoring employer has to demonstrate it is justified in engaging the services of the expatriate applicant as opposed to a ‘local person’ (defined as any local resident who does not need the approval of the Immigration department to take up that job.)

However, in order to shed a little light on how the test can be applied by way of an exception which proves the rule, I do have one case example which serves to illustrate not only how the approvability test is applied in practice but also how the Immigration Department are prepared to accept a well articulated argument that, once the facts have been fully assessed and appreciated, simply adds up and will lead to the much desired Hong Kong employment visa approval.

Our client was just 19. He was Japanese and the son of an eel farmer. He had only a high school graduate diploma to his name but had been working on the family eel farm from a very early age. His father’s family business was part of a local fish farming cooperative which had made an agreement to provide technical and support services to a newly established eel farming concern just over the border from Hong Kong, in the SAR of Shenzhen.

The intention was, in due course, for our client’s cooperative in Japan and the Shenzhen eel farming business to work together in supplying the finest quality eel products to the Japanese market. The shortage of suitable land in Japan meant that the cooperative was missing out on high volume supply opportunities at the right quality to Japanese consumers who simply demand the best produce.

The cooperative therefore established a subsidiary entity in the HKSAR with the plan to fulfill their technical and advisory responsibilities to the Shenzhen eel farm from within Hong Kong. This would involve commuting across the border to visit the China facility every day, laying the ground for a very tax-efficient cross-border trading business with Hong Kong managing the export operations once quality product in the right volume could be supplied ex Shenzhen into the Japanese market.

Therefore, our 19-year-old client was appointed as the Registered Representative in the HKSAR for the Japanese cooperative and dispatched to HK to oversee the Shenzhen eel farm in pursuit of the agreement between the Japanese and Chinese parties.

We were approached by the 19 year old for advice on his employment visa situation and, initially, we were quite skeptical. At first blush it could not be said that there was an approvable visa opportunity in this case with its highly unusual circumstances. The applicant was very young; had only limited formal educations; had nothing special about him per se, beyond the fact that he had a solid family connection to the president of the local cooperative (his father).

On the plus side he was learning (and picking up quite quickly) Cantonese but his English was very limited. Moreover, he was sufficiently responsible and capable enough to be entrusted with the implementation of the technical advice into the Shenzhen operation which was, after all, slowly coming good.

Another problem was that the amount of capital committed to the Hong Kong side of the project was quite modest all told as it was planned that only after the technical challenges had been definitively addressed would truly substantial investment be injected to scale the operations on both sides of the Hong Kong/Shenzhen boundary.

Consequently, when you combine youth, limited education, lack of language skills and only modest funding for the Hong Kong side of the equation (and also that the farm itself is in China, not in the HKSAR) we were not very hopeful that an employment visa for his in these circumstances could in fact be approved.

So we rolled our sleeves up and questioned him at length about what, in fact, was so special about him and his appointment to the project beyond the fact that he was the son of the president of the cooperative. To our surprise, we learned about an inherent skill to eel farming that not everyone possesses.

This esoteric skill is akin to chicken sexing. Namely, when handling a juvenile eel from a cohort of the newly hatched, it is possible to innately appreciate from the strength and manner in the way that they flick their tails whether or not the genetic make-up of that batch is likely to grow out to market weight within the acceptable production time frames. When held in the palm of the hand, the viability of such juveniles can be assessed accordingly and this skill is a vital part of the technology transfer arrangements which underpinned the collaboration between Japan and Shenzhen – and our client had it!

In the pursuit of our client’s application, we provided the Hong Kong Immigration Department with all of the data and academic papers attesting to this phenomenon which was, albeit strange, completely true. To their credit, the Hong Kong ID accepted the argument and approved our client’s visa.

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