Visa & Immigration Update: Hong Kong Recognises Same-Sex Partnerships in Dependant Visa Applications
Background & Highlights
Following our previous blog on the review of Hong Kong’s dependent visa policy regarding same-sex relationships, a new policy has been officially adopted. The Hong Kong Immigration Department has announced that the region will – for the first time - recognise overseas same-sex partnerships when granting dependant visas. Effective September 19, 2018, a person who has entered one of the following scenarios (that is legally recognised by the local authorities of the place of celebration) will be eligible to apply for a dependant visa or entry permit into Hong Kong with an eligible employed partner/sponsor:
- A same-sex civil partnership
- A same-sex civil union
- A same-sex civil marriage
- An opposite-sex civil partnership
- An opposite-sex civil union
In the cases above, an applicant will be able to stay in Hong Kong for a period up to one year or in line with the employed partner’s limit of stay.
The usual eligibility criteria of the policy apply, including:
- reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the applicant and sponsor
- no known record that is detrimental to the applicant
- ability of the employed partner/sponsor to support the dependant's standard of living, well above the subsistence level, in a suitable accommodation
Moving Forward: What to Expect
The Immigration Department will process all new and outstanding applications according to the revised policy. Any permissions that were granted during the policy’s interim review period will remain valid. Going forward, applicants may apply for further extensions (to remain in Hong Kong as dependants) before the expiry of their current permitted limit of stay; extensions will be processed according to the revised policy.
Changing Immigration Laws: Challenges & Opportunities
In a general sense, immigration laws vary greatly and continue to evolve across the globe, which is why compliance is quickly becoming one of the most significant challenges in the world of mobility. Often, human resource and talent mobility professionals simply don’t know what they need to know – and quickly find that they have failed to submit a piece of important documentation, that they were unaware of a deadline, or missed the finer points of a region’s compliance laws altogether. The resulting delays or denials of visas end up costing their companies valuable time, resources and talent.
The recent changes to immigration policy in Hong Kong will, likewise, require HR and mobility professionals to pay close attention to compliance. Partnering with a knowledgeable relocation management company (RMC) can be very helpful in this regard, as RMCs are uniquely positioned to provide global expertise; valuable guidance when reviewing the eligibility of candidates and their dependants for work authorizations and visas; and up-to-date, extensive knowledge of evolving immigration requirements from country to country.
While the recent change to Hong Kong’s visa policy doesn’t mean Hong Kong will recognise same-sex marriage, the new policy has the potential to provide some interesting opportunities. For individuals that are part of a same-sex relationship and are currently working in or considering a career opportunity in Hong Kong, the new policy will provide greater career flexibility and more opportunities. As for Hong Kong itself, this change may set the city apart from other strong Asian regions – such as Singapore, mainland China and Japan – in attracting global talent.
For more information on this topic, please reach out to our SIRVA Immigration Specialists in Hong Kong: _SIR-HK-VISA@sirva.com