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It’s the typical HongKong expatriate story: “I came for 3 months and stayed 3 years.”“I came for 2 years and stayed 20.” Hong Kong is an attractive place to liveand work and therefore many people find themselves looking for ways to stay onafter the initial contracts that brought them here. 

There are basically two ways for foreign working people to stay in Hong Kong and make a living : find a job with a company willing to sponsor you, or start a business and get your own work visa. 

Most expatriates arrive in Hong Kong having been moved by a multi-national corporation. If you can get such a job, the company will look after the visa application process, a relatively simple procedure. If you remain with thisc ompany long enough to complete the 7-year residency requirement, you can apply for Permanent Residency status and you will no longer need work visas. You would then be free to continue living and working in Hong Kong as you wish. 

But how many people stay with one company for 7 years these days? Most expatriate jobs with multi-nationals are designed for shorter stays and require you to move back to your home country, or elsewhere, after two or three years. If you quit or lose the job, you lose your visa. If you are determined to stay in Hong Kong, you may be tied to staying with a job you don’t like because of the risk of losing your visa, especially if you have family members who are dependent on you. If you wish to change jobs, you will have to find another company that is willing to sponsor you. Companies that hire a lot of expats may have trouble getting visas for new hires. The Hong Kong government wants to encourage companies to provide employment for locals rather than relying solely or largely on expats. 

One of the best ways to make the transition from global corporate employee, or global corporate spouse, to local Hong Kong resident, is to start your own business and get your own work visa. Thankfully this process is quite simple and the policies and procedures are relatively transparent, especially compared to many other Asian countries. Once you receive your visa, there is more freedom in how you do business than you would working for a corporation, as you can adjust the nature of your business as it develops. For those willing to commit to Hong Kong as their home base, it is an excellent option. 

In order to convince the Hong Kong Immigration Department to issue you a business visa, you will have to consider the following questions. What special skills and knowledge do you possess that are not readily available in Hong Kong? What can you do to ensure your business will be viable to support you and your dependents? How will your business contribute to Hong Kong economically and socially interms of supporting the community or stimulating other aspects of the economy? As a foreigner, you must capitalize on your differences from other Hong Kong people in order to make the case for your visa. For assistance in how to do this, contact one of Hong Kong’s business immigration consultancies such as Emigra Asia at www.emigra.com.hk or Dearson Winyard International at www.dwiglobal.com

And in order to complete a successful transition to self-employed business owner, you’ll need to consider carefully your business plan and your lifestyle plan in order to cope with the additional stresses and freedoms of working for yourself. For assistance and support in making the transition and creating a business that suits you perfectly, contact me through www.spaxman.com.hk

Here’s the caveat. Make sure you really want to live in Hong Kong and are not just taken by the corporate expat lifestyle of expense accounts, large flats and maids. As a small business owner you will most likely choose a more modest lifestyle until you have established a healthy business. Living expenses compare to other large cosmopolitan urban centres where space is at a premium. In other words, it can be expensive. However business opportunities abound and both the government and city culture make Hong Kong an excellent place to start a business. Most likely this aspect of living in Hong Kong is part of the reason you want to establish yourself in here in the first place.