Permanent Resident Application in Hong Kong: Your Guide

Aubrey Yung

Permanent residency in Hong Kong - which is also often called the right of abode (ROA) - comes with some clear benefits for people who plan to stay in the HKSAR for a long time. Whether or not you’ll be eligible for the right of abode will depend on your nationality and how long you’ve lived in Hong Kong, among a few other things.

This guide runs through what you need to know about Hong Kong permanent residence - and also introduces low cost international payments from Wise as a smart way to save when you’re sending money home.

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Hong Kong Permanent Resident Eligibility

As you may expect, there are some fairly complex eligibility criteria in place to decide who is able to apply for Hong Kong permanent resident status. If you’re considering applying it’s worth checking the details thoroughly and talking to an immigration professional if you need to.

Here are the eligibility categories usually available for for Chinese citizens¹:

  • Chinese citizens born in Hong Kong
  • Chinese citizen with 7 years of ordinary residence in Hong Kong
  • Chinese citizen where one or both parents meet the above criteria

If you’re not Chinese, you’ll be subject to slightly different rules:

  • Non-Chinese citizen with 7 years of continuous residence in Hong Kong, subject to approvals and a declaration of permanent residence intent
  • Non-Chinese citizen, aged under 21, born in Hong Kong - where one or both parents has Hong Kong permanent resident status

There is one other eligibility route - if you had a right of abode in Hong Kong prior to the transfer of sovereignty to China on 1 July 1997, you may be able to regain your right to permanent resident status subject to approvals.

Check out the handy ROA flowchart available on the Hong Kong immigration department website, to help you figure out if you’re able to apply.

Hong Kong Permanent Resident Benefits

Becoming a Hong Kong permanent resident will mean you’re able to access some of the benefits and entitlements which are typically only open to citizens. These include:

  • The right to remain in Hong Kong permanently
  • The right to work in Hong Kong
  • Access to education and healthcare
  • The right to vote in some local elections
  • Access to some government programs, subject to eligibility

Hong Kong citizen vs Permanent Resident

Becoming a Hong Kong permanent resident isn’t the same as being a Hong Kong citizen - but it does unlock a lot of benefits as we’ve seen above.

Hong Kong citizens are Chinese citizens - but because the process of naturalizing as a Chinese citizen is considered tough to do, many people who want to live in Hong Kong prefer to apply for PR status instead. This allows you to maintain your original citizenship in line with being a Hong Kong permanent resident - whereas naturalizing would require you to renounce your original citizenship.

It’s worth noting that permanent resident status isn’t actually strictly permanent - in fact it can be revoked if you leave Hong Kong for more than 3 years - unlike citizenship. You’ll also not be able to get a Hong Kong passport simply by being a permanent resident - there are several other eligibility criteria you’ll need to meet too. Crucially, to get a Hong Kong passport you’ll first need to hold Chinese citizenship.

Hong Kong Permanent Resident Application

To apply to become a Hong Kong permanent resident you’ll need to take the following steps³:

  1. Complete the correct application form for your eligibility route
  2. Collect supporting documents to verify your status
  3. If you’re not a Chinese citizen you’ll also need a declaration that Hong Kong will remain your permanent home (Form ROP146)
  4. Send or drop in hard copies of your application - or scan and upload everything digitally

The supporting documents you need will depend on the route through which you’re applying. If you’re applying based on having more than 7 years residence in Hong Kong, for example, you could use tax notifications from the past 7 years, employment contracts showing Hong Kong as your place of work, or rental agreements. You’ll be notified if any other supporting information is required to process your application.

There’s not usually a fee to pay for the first residence card you apply for.⁴

How long does it take for a permanent residence application?

Processing times once you’ve applied for your permanent resident status can be fairly fast. While the wait time will vary depending on demand, around 6 weeks is commonly reported.

Once your application has been approved, your existing visa will be revoked and you’ll be asked to go to the Registration of Persons office to get your physical card. If you’re applying for a child under the age of 11 they won’t be able to get a card, but they’ll have an endorsement added to their passport to show they’re still eligible to stay in Hong Kong.⁵

If you’re eligible for the right of abode in Hong Kong and can get your permanent resident status you’ll be able to tap into some of the rights and benefits typically reserved for citizens. That can make it a very worthwhile thing to do if you’re planning to stay in Hong Kong for good. Use this guide to get started with your application, and to help you navigate the system.

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Recommended Reading: Applying HKID Card

Wise for sending money


Sources used in this article:

1 Hong Kong Immigration Department: Eligibility for the Right of Abode in the HKSAR
2 Hong Kong Immigration Department: Application for HKSAR Passport
3 Hong Kong Immigration Department: Apply for Right of Abode in Hong Kong
4 Hong Kong Immigration Department: Fee Table
5 Hong Kong Immigration Department: Apply for Right of Abode in Hong Kong

Sources last checked on 6-Dec-2021


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