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Rise in visa applications as Hong Kong begins to open up

14 November 2022

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Quinten Kah, commercial director, and Jessica Tsang, associate director, payroll and visa, explain how Hong Kong is once again open for business.

During the pandemic, Hong Kong’s financial system continued to expand and the region maintained its role as a key financial centre.

Now there are signs that the region is opening up for international business once again, with visa applications rising as travel restrictions ease.

Despite the previous restrictions on socialising and travel, Hong Kong remains an attractive destination to set up a business or establish a holding company.

Its infrastructure is highly advanced and the workforce is multilingual and highly skilled. Legal firms, tax advisers and consultants are all able to support foreign direct investors.

Rise in visa applications for Hong Kong

In the first half of 2022, the number of visa applications or renewals seen by Intertrust Group in Hong Kong had reached the same level as the whole of 2021.

By the end of June, Intertrust Group had dealt with over 90% of the visa renewal application number as compared to 2019 and doubled the application number in 2020.

Similarly, the number of new visa applications in the first half of 2022 was 25% higher than the whole of 2021.

These figures are broadly in line with encouraging statistics published recently by the Hong Kong Immigration Department, showing a general resurgence in visa applications into Hong Kong following the Covid pandemic. They also reflect a global rise in visa applications as businesses recover.

The Top Talent Pass Scheme

The government is set to launch a new two-year programme designed to attract talent to pursue careers in Hong Kong.

Under the Top Talent Pass Scheme, applicants will not be obliged to have secured a job offer before arriving in the city.

The programme is aimed at high earners as well as recent graduates from the world’s 100 top universities with three years’ work experience over the past five years.

In addition, employers will also benefit from the relaxation of the General Employment Policy scheme and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, including the elimination of the labour market test for certain occupations or high income earners, among other plans to boost the economy.

Travel restrictions to Hong Kong are easing

Business travel has also received a boost through a relaxation in the rules around quarantine on arrival. People entering the country need now only spend three days in hotel quarantine rather than a week, which was the requirement before August 2022.

The new rules require international arrivals to take a Covid test at the airport and, if negative, remain in hotel quarantine with only limited social restrictions.

This is likely to encourage more inbound traffic and a renewed confidence in doing business in Hong Kong and using the region’s corporate services.

Social events are also restarting

Another sign that Hong Kong is open for business is the resumption of important social events in the calendar, including the Hong Kong banking forum, Hong Kong Sevens Rugby at Hong Kong stadium in November and, starting at the end of October, Hong Kong Fintech Week.

In other words, Hong Kong is taking steps to open up and be an international city again.

What are the advantages of doing business in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has established itself as the premier stock market for companies from mainland China seeking to list abroad and as a key renminbi (RMB) offshore centre.

In 2021 it was the largest offshore RMB clearing centre, sharing about 76% of the world’s RMB payments. Given its proximity to mainland China, the territory is often considered a gateway into the Asia-Pacific region and China’s fast-growing markets.

Starting a company in Hong Kong is simple and swift – a business can be registered within a day. Foreigners can control up to 100% of the entity and be appointed as directors, even if they are not citizens or residents.

Hong Kong is also one of the world’s most tax-friendly jurisdictions, with some of the lowest rates in Asia.

How can Intertrust Group help?

Visa applications require much documentation including educational and professional background checks.

It is important to apply for the right type of visa – the two most common being an Employment Visa and an Investment as Entrepreneur Visa. We can help arrange visas for dependents and spouses as well.

Visa application requirements generally include a well-drafted business plan covering a company’s profile, its business activities, turnover, operational costs and hiring strategy. This is crucial to be granted approval – yet most companies and entrepreneurs starting out don’t know where to begin in drafting such a document. Our team is skilled at helping clients prepare business plans to meet current Hong Kong immigration requirements.

Having a local partner also helps with cultural differences and the potential language barrier. We can assist clients in applying for permanent residency in Hong Kong after seven years.

In addition, we can provide Hong Kong HR and payroll services. Our Hong Kong team includes experts specialising in administration services dedicated to servicing multinational, private equity and fund clients.

We can help corporate clients looking to expand into this exciting economy with a full suite of services from our office in Hong Kong.

Why Intertrust Group?

  • Intertrust Group is a publicly listed company with 70 years’ experience providing world-class trust and corporate services to clients around the world.
  • Our 4,000 professionals work together across 30 jurisdictions to offer an undisputed global reach, deep local knowledge and an extensive international network to help clients achieve their strategic goals.
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