Q. I am presently in Hong Kong as a Visitor scouting opportunities for my employer in the UK. It is possible I might be asked to remain here. What can I do (and not do) under my current immigration status?

A. For most nationalities, visitor visa permissions are granted upon arrival and the length of stay is determined by nationality. US Citizens get 90 days as do Japanese, Australians, Canadians and most EC nationals. British Citizens secure a six month Visitor entry stamp when they arrive in the HKSAR.

The rules denote that if an individual wishes to come to Hong Kong to take up employment an application for an Employment Visa should be submitted to and issued by the Hong Kong Immigration Department (“HKID”) prior to the person traveling to the HKSAR. Thus any person scheduled to take up employment in the HKSAR and who has an Employment Visa application pending should wait until his or her Employment Visa is granted before formally relocating to Hong Kong in pursuit of that employment.

In many cases, however, such persons intending to relocate to Hong Kong may be required to participate in "orientation”, “preliminary" or other permitted business Visitor activities prior to the commencement of their Hong Kong employment. This activity is acceptable so long as the employment related duties of the new work position in Hong Kong are not taken up during this period of time. The employment may only formally commence once the Employment Visa approval has been secured, the travel document endorsed to this effect, and a valid period of stay granted (upon arrival) for the purposes of taking up the approved employment. The same holds true for those persons who, for any reason, determine to seek a change of immigration status from Visitor to Employment whilst they find themselves visiting Hong Kong. No employment activities can commence until the HKID have granted their consent to such a change of visa arrangements.