Legal update: Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa Scheme extended to British Nationals


Hong Kong law firm Tanner De Witt outlines the criteria and conditions of the Working Holiday Visa Scheme which is now open to British Nationals.

The Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa Scheme allows national passport holders of participating countries to take up short-term employment or to enrol in short study or training courses while they are on holiday in Hong Kong.  The criteria of the Working Holiday Visa Scheme are that the applicant:

  1.  holds a valid national passport issued by the participating country;
  2.  ordinarily resides in the participating country;
  3.  is aged between 18 and 30;
  4.  has the primary intention to spend his or her holiday in Hong Kong;
  5.  is able to produce financial proof showing that he or she has an amount sufficient for his or her maintenance during the proposed stay in Hong Kong;
  6.  holds a return air ticket or financial proof showing sufficient funds to purchase a return air ticket; and
  7.  agrees to hold medical, healthcare, repatriation and liability insurance which shall remain in force throughout the period of stay in Hong Kong.

The participating countries under the Working Holiday Visa Scheme were, prior to 2014, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.  The United Kingdom was added as a participating country with effect from 1 January 2014.

Following the addition of the United Kingdom as a participating country, British citizens who meet the criteria may apply for a Working Holiday Visa.  The application should be supported by financial proof such as bank statements and passbooks of savings accounts showing that the applicant has an amount (currently) not less than HK$22,000.

The Working Holiday Visa allows British citizens to enter Hong Kong and stay for not more than 12 months.  They may take up temporary employment as an incidental aspect of their holiday but must not work for more than 12 months.  They may also enrol in any number of study or training courses so long as the cumulative duration of the courses is also not more than 12 months in total. British nationals may work for a single employer for the full twelve months. Visitors from other participating countries have different limits on the maximum period of employment they can take up with a single employer during the 12 month visa period. This varies from 3 to 6 months depending upon the country.

The purpose of the Working Holiday Visa Scheme is to facilitate cultural and educational exchange between Hong Kong and the participating countries and to strengthen the relationship between them.  It is hoped that the Scheme will encourage young professionals to take up temporary employment in Hong Kong so that knowledge, insights and practices of various professions can be exchanged for the benefit of individual professionals as well as Hong Kong.

Tanner De Witt advises on Hong Kong employment law and immigration matters regularly.  Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the  Working Holiday Visa Scheme. Guidance Notes on the Scheme are found on the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website here.