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Sideline Business Questions

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  1. #1

    Sideline Business Questions

    I am on a sponsored visa by my employer, and I have gained their permission to do sideline work as a graphic designer (I have a degree in this).

    My original intent has been to set up a sole proprietor business with the Inland Revenue Department, and then seek approval from Immigration. My understanding was that this would be a relatively simple process, seeing as this was all meant to be "side" work. But apparently I am wrong in that assumption, and Immigration is choosing to view my sideline request as an investment company that will require many more documents, such as Application for Entry for Investment as Entrepreneurin Hong Kong, bank statements, potential clients, and a 2-year business plan. This has become a much bigger ordeal than I expected.

    I spoke with a business development agency in HK, and they told me that there was a possibility that having a sole proprietor business in my name might give me problems when it comes time to renew my visa with my sponsoring employer. This alarms me and makes me wary of continuing with the sole proprietor route.

    I am now considering to pursue another route entirely - setting up an LLC with a local HK friend of mine. We would plan to use an agency to help us, since we are both not trained in business preparation - he is a computer programmer and I do graphic design. I've been told that an LLC is viewed differently by the government and they may not have an issue with me participating in this as a sideline business.

    Does anyone out there have experience in a similar situation recently? I was informed that Immigration's policies have changed in the last year or less, so I am unsure which info online is actually accurate anymore.

    Thank you very much for any advice you can give!


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    1,834

    Holding shares in an LLC and to my understanding even being a director in it is not a problem. Working for said LLC lands you in all kinds of hot waters though. I don't know of a single instance where a GEP holder was granted permission to do part time work TBH. Of course that's just my potential lack of information but I would be surprised if this works without a hitch. IANG and dependent visa holders can do this - if that's a viable route, use it.


  3. #3

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    Aug 2009
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    i dont understand why you make it to complicated. from a practical standpoint you have a visa and your current employer is fine, just do your work on the side and dont tell anyone about it

    HK_Katherine and Mrs. Jones like this.

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by gweilocal:
    I am on a sponsored visa by my employer, and I have gained their permission to do sideline work as a graphic designer (I have a degree in this).
    Great.
    I spoke with a business development agency in HK, and they told me that there was a possibility that having a sole proprietor business in my name might give me problems when it comes time to renew my visa with my sponsoring employer. This alarms me and makes me wary of continuing with the sole proprietor route.
    Unless you go out of your way to tell them, IMMD will never know about this.
    I am now considering to pursue another route entirely - setting up an LLC with a local HK friend of mine. We would plan to use an agency to help us, since we are both not trained in business preparation - he is a computer programmer and I do graphic design. I've been told that an LLC is viewed differently by the government and they may not have an issue with me participating in this as a sideline business.
    Keep your mouth shut and they wont know anything and wont make any objections.
    Does anyone out there have experience in a similar situation recently? I was informed that Immigration's policies have changed in the last year or less, so I am unsure which info online is actually accurate anymore.
    Dont ask, dont tell.
    MandM! likes this.

  5. #5

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    i would also suggest the keep it quiet route. I had friends who did tutoring and graphic design in addition to their full time jobs. they didn't tell anyone and it was all fine.

    Unless you are planning something huge with massive amounts of income and business structure, it would be hard for them to find out anyway. Just keep it small, word-of-mouth, and nobody will know.


  6. #6

    The problem will be if any of your customers require an invoice from a registered business entity in order to pay you. Previously you could register a SoleProp on a conditional visa, no questions asked, but now you can't, as you have discovered (This changed about 4 years ago, for those whose experience is from earlier)


  7. #7

    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by dentarthurdent:
    The problem will be if any of your customers require an invoice from a registered business entity in order to pay you. Previously you could register a SoleProp on a conditional visa, no questions asked, but now you can't, as you have discovered (This changed about 4 years ago, for those whose experience is from earlier)
    Do you have a spouse on a dependent visa? If so, she could register the sole prop......(although you then risk giving her all your money lol).

    An LLC is not complicated. But you will incur ongoing admin - you need audited accounts, you have to file stuff regularly - you can pay a firm to do this all for you but are looking at perhaps 10k a year minimum for this.

    Another option would be perhaps to register with a temping agency or contracting agency? You can then use them for invoicing (they will take a cut) - not sure how flexible those agencies are here. Not as flexible as overseas would be my guess.

  8. #8

    And even with a Hong Kong LLC, it would be illegal for the company to employ you without permission from ImmD.

    Temp agencies have the same problem - they cannot legally employ you.

    Setting up an overseas business entity might be one way to go - at least HK ImmD would find it hard to go after them for employing you illegally, although you could still be deported for breach of your visa conditions.


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Hong Kong
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    6,337
    Quote Originally Posted by gweilocal:
    I am on a sponsored visa by my employer, and I have gained their permission to do sideline work as a graphic designer (I have a degree in this).

    My original intent has been to set up a sole proprietor business with the Inland Revenue Department, and then seek approval from Immigration. My understanding was that this would be a relatively simple process, seeing as this was all meant to be "side" work. But apparently I am wrong in that assumption, and Immigration is choosing to view my sideline request as an investment company that will require many more documents, such as Application for Entry for Investment as Entrepreneurin Hong Kong, bank statements, potential clients, and a 2-year business plan. This has become a much bigger ordeal than I expected.

    I spoke with a business development agency in HK, and they told me that there was a possibility that having a sole proprietor business in my name might give me problems when it comes time to renew my visa with my sponsoring employer. This alarms me and makes me wary of continuing with the sole proprietor route.

    I am now considering to pursue another route entirely - setting up an LLC with a local HK friend of mine. We would plan to use an agency to help us, since we are both not trained in business preparation - he is a computer programmer and I do graphic design. I've been told that an LLC is viewed differently by the government and they may not have an issue with me participating in this as a sideline business.

    Does anyone out there have experience in a similar situation recently? I was informed that Immigration's policies have changed in the last year or less, so I am unsure which info online is actually accurate anymore.

    Thank you very much for any advice you can give!
    First, I hope that isn't your real photo on your profile. Low profile is the key!

    If your current employer is willing to allow sideline work, then is it a close friend who is the employer, perhaps you could collect the money through your current business. It also depends on how picky your clients are, whether they will pay you directly or required to pay a company.

    If you apply to IMMD it is going to be trouble, I'll leave it at that. Technically you should wait until your 7 years are in and you are a permanent resident. But that doesn't mean people don't run sideline businesses. Technically working from home is a breach of conditions of the land, kind of weird, but it's true. You could work when you are overseas without any issues, having a HK company will have annual costs. BR fees, audit fees, taxes, etc.