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Obtain Permanent Residency in Hong Kong

Obtain Permanent Residency in Hong Kong

Many foreign nationals who arrive in Hong Kong for employment or business purposes are interested in obtaining permanent residency in Hong Kong. The right of abode, defined as the right to land in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), be free of any conditions of stay that impose limits of stay, the right to not be deported or removed is subject to a set of conditions as well as eligibility criteria.

The Immigration Ordinance defines several categories of individuals allowed to receive the right of abode. In this article, our team of lawyers in Hong Kong answers some of the most commonly asked questions concerning permanent residency in Hong Kong.

Please keep in mind that these questions offer general information and that each case can be different, depending on the applicant’s particular status. We recommend seeking specialized legal aid whenever possible to ensure compliance with the current rules in force.

 Quick Facts  
Minimum temporary residence before applying for permanent residence  7 years 

The rights of permanent residents in Hong Kong 

The right of abode (permanent residence) allows the status holder to live and work in the HKSAR without restrictions of stay. 

 Governing law for the right of abode in Hong Kong

The Immigration Ordinance 

 Permanent residence for non-Chinese foreign nationals For those who have been living in Hong Kong lawfully for 7 years, or those under the age of 21 born in Hong Kong to a parent who is a permanent resident. 
 Permanent residence for Chinese nationals

For: those born in Hong Kong, born outside Hong Kong but who have lawfully lived in the HKSAR for 7 years, for those born outside of Hong Kong to a parent who was a HKSAR permanent resident. 

 Special requirements for permanent residents after the age of 21

 Those who have Hong Kong permanent residency until the age of 21 will need to establish their own permanent residence status.

 Periods outside of Hong Kong

Foreigners are allowed to leave Hong Kong for temporary purposes and their ordinary residency will not be interrupted. 

 Permanent resident status loss

Foreign nationals (non-Chinese) who have lived in Hong Kong for 7 years but were absent from HKSAR for no less than 36 months after ceasing to reside here ordinarily.

Other situations for the loss of permanent residency can also apply. 

 Verification for eligibility

 This is a mandatory step before the applicant can be awarded a permanent identity card for Hong Kong.

 The Certificate of Entitlement Issued to Mainland China residents who wish to apply for the right of abode in Hong Kong. 
Mandatory documents for application 

Valid permanent identity card or the Certificate of Entitlement.  

 Mandatory presence in Hong Kong

Yes, the applicant who requests his or her eligibility for a permanent identity card or certificate of entitlement must be present in Hong Kong when making the application.  

Citizenship after permanent residence 

Applications for Chinese citizenship are possible, subject to conditions. 

 Naturalization requirements

Naturalization as a Chinese national takes place as per the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China. 

 Dual citizenship permitted  No 

Who can obtain permanent residency in Hong Kong?

The following six categories of foreign nationals can receive the right of abode in Hong Kong:

  1. Chinese nationals born in Hong Kong: in this particular case, the applicant can be born before or after the HKSAR was established; place of birth proof is required;
  2. Chinese nationals who resided: those who ordinarily resided in HKSAR for at least seven years before or after the establishment of the Special Administrative Region;
  3. Chinese nationals born outside Hong Kong: these persons are eligible when they were born to a parent who, at the time the applicant was born, was a Chinese national included in the two aforementioned categories;
  4. Foreign nationals who lawfully resided: a foreign national who has entered Hong Kong lawfully and continued to live lawfully for no less than seven years;
  5. Foreign nationals under 21 years of age: who are born in Hong Kong to a parent who has obtained permanent residency in Hong Kong;
  6. Previous residence: individuals in the aforementioned categories who had the right of abode before the establishment of HKSAR can obtain permanent residency under a special evaluation from the Director of Immigration and a statement that he/she has the right immediately before the establishment of HKSAR.

Our immigration lawyers in Hong Kong can give you more details about the aforementioned six categories.

How can I apply for Hong Kong permanent residency?

Foreign nationals who have lawfully been living in Hong Kong for more than seven years can apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong upon submitting a special application. Among the mandatory documents that are presented is the valid permanent identity card.

The applicant will provide the needed information about his or her sufficient and lawful stay in the city and make a declaration that they have taken up Hong Kong as their place of permanent residence. Once the application for permanent resident status is approved by the Director of Immigration, the person obtains the right of abode.

A special category of applicant can be a non-Chinese citizen who had the right of abode in Hong Kong before the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. A declaration is also needed in this case, along with other documents.

What are the rights of a Hong Kong permanent resident?

The right of abode (as mentioned, the status of permanent residency in Hong Kong) allows the holder to:

  • land in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region without a visa;
  • be excepted from conditions of stay, including having no limit of stay;
  • not be deported and not be removed from the HKSAR.

A distinction is made between the settled status and the right of abode: the first is granted to a person who is an ordinary resident who is not subject to a limit of stay. An ordinary resident is a person who remains in the HKSAR legally and according to a purpose of stay (study, employment, etc.).

If you have questions about the right of abode, the immigration experts at our law firm in Hong Kong will answer them for you.

Can a holder lose his or her right to permanent residency?

The permanent resident status can be lost in certain specific cases. The ones that apply for non-Chinese nationals include being absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of no less that 36 months since the commencement of ordinary residence.

Another situation that leads to the loss of permanent residency in Hong Kong includes the one in which the applicant was under 21 years of age. Upon attaining this age, he or she will need to qualify according to his own particular situation.

We invite you to watch a video on permanent residency in Hong Kong:

How can your team of lawyers help me?

Our team of lawyers in Hong Kong who specialize in immigration matters can help you apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong. We help foreign nationals understand the general conditions for application, the laws concerning the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as well as assist those who are included in the special categories of nationals who can apply (such as former Mainland residents or certain categories of Chinese nationals).

We can help you with:

  1. your application for the right of abode: if you are one of the six categories who can enjoy the right of abode, our lawyers in Hong Kong will help you with the application by ensuring that your documents are in order and that you meet the eligibility criteria as set forth by the authorities;
  2. your ordinary residence application: even if you are just relocating to Hong Kong, and haven’t yet spent enough time in the city to be able to apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong, we will help you with your first residence permit application;
  3. remaining in the HKSAR as a foreign national: foreign nationals can qualify for Chinese nationality applications, should they wish to perform this step after having lived in Hong Kong for several years (and if they comply with the other requirements);
  4. other issues: if you have questions about your particular situation, such as if your residence purpose changes and how this can affect your right of abode application, our team will evaluate your case and give you the needed answers.

Hong Kong population statistics

According to the statistics issued by the Government of Hong Kong, the Census and Statistics Department, the provisional data for the mid-year population for 2023 was the following:

  • the total population was 7,498,100;
  • this is an increase of 2.1% or 152,000 individuals compared to the 2022 mid-year population;
  • the 2022-2023 population increase is due to a net inflow of residents, amounting to 174,000 individuals;
  • the total population in the middle of 2023 comprised 7,249,300 usual residents and 248,700 mobile residents.

For statistical purposes, mobile residents are those who have stayed in the Special Administrative Region for at least one month and less than three months during the six months before or after the reference time point for which the data was submitted. Usual residents are generally those who have ordinary residency or permanent residency in Hong Kong and spend more time in the city, compared to the mobile category (at least three months during the six months before or three months during the six months after the reference date).

Contact our immigration lawyers in Hong Kong for more information about permanent residence and how our team can help you apply if you have been lawfully living in Hong Kong for a minimum number of years.