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In general, individuals admitted into Hong Kong under various types of visa may apply for extension of stay within four weeks before the date of expiry, and they must be physically present in Hong Kong at the time of submitting the application and the collection of visa label upon approval. Due to the ongoing pandemic across the globe, this restriction has brought extra hurdles to a lot of applicants who are employees of companies and/or members of families.
In response to the social impact of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, the Immigration Department of Hong Kong has sought to provide support to the non-permanent residents of Hong Kong. On 31 December 2020, a special arrangement has been introduced with immediate effect, which allows the individuals outside of Hong Kong with their visas about to expire (within four weeks) or expired (for less than twelve months), who are unable to return to Hong Kong timely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to apply for extension of stay and collect the visa label upon approval (“Special Arrangement”).
The Special Arrangement applies to the Applicant under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates, General Employment Policy, Capital Investment Entrant Scheme and their dependants but is not applicable to Foreign Domestic Helpers and Imported Workers.
Applicants are no longer required to be present in Hong Kong
In line with the Special Arrangement, the eligible applicants who are unable to return to Hong Kong timely to apply for extension of their visas could submit the application outside of Hong Kong via courier or authorized person, while the online submission is not applicable, and the visa label should be collected by the authorized person. The residents of the Mainland China shall also apply for the relevant endorsement with the renewed visa label before returning to Hong Kong.
The eligible applicants must submit the application form together with the supporting documents required for application for extension of stay under relevant visa category. In addition, an explanation letter setting out the reasons of the inability to return to Hong Kong timely for the extension would be required. In case the submission of application and/or visa collection would be made by an authorized person, a letter of authorization is also required.
The Special Arrangement is expected to be temporary due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and may be subject to changes in the future once the situation is stabilized. Deacons will continue to monitor the development of relevant policies and laws and provide an update as appropriate. Our team is experienced in advising our clients on immigration related matters and would be pleased to assist in this regard.
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