Cross-border (Hong Kong to China)

There are about 15,000 Hong Kong employment visas granted each year. Every one of these applications is unique with its own particular qualities and circumstances.

Consequently the application of the approvability test for 叫車服務 permission to work in the HKSAR, obviously, differs from case to case. The test for approval places a burden on the applicant to show that he or she possesses special skills knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong. Additionally, the proposed sponsoring employer has to demonstrate it is justified in engaging the services of the expatriate applicant as opposed to a ‘local person’ (defined as any local resident who does not need the approval of the Immigration department to take up that job.)

However, in order to shed a little light on how the test can be applied by way of an exception which proves the rule, I do have one case example which serves to illustrate not only how the approvability test is applied in practice but also how the Immigration Department are prepared to accept a well articulated argument that, once the facts have been fully assessed and appreciated, simply adds up and will lead to the much desired Hong Kong employment visa approval.

Our client was just 19. He was Japanese and the son of an eel farmer. He had only a high school graduate diploma to his name but had been working on the family eel farm from a very early age. His father’s family business was part of a local fish farming cooperative which had made an agreement to provide technical and support services to a newly established eel farming concern just over the border from Hong Kong, in the SAR of Shenzhen.

The intention was, in due course, for our client’s cooperative in Japan and the Shenzhen eel farming business to work together in supplying the finest quality eel products to the Japanese market. The shortage of suitable land in Japan meant that the cooperative was missing out on high volume supply opportunities at the right quality to Japanese consumers who simply demand the best produce.

The cooperative therefore established a subsidiary entity in the HKSAR with the plan to fulfill their technical and advisory responsibilities to the Shenzhen eel farm from within Hong Kong. This would involve commuting across the border to visit the China facility every day, laying the ground for a very tax-efficient cross-border trading business with Hong Kong managing the export operations once quality product in the right volume could be supplied ex Shenzhen into the Japanese market.

Therefore, our 19-year-old client was appointed as the Registered Representative in the HKSAR for the Japanese cooperative and dispatched to HK to oversee the Shenzhen eel farm in pursuit of the agreement between the Japanese and Chinese parties.

We were approached by the 19 year old for advice on his employment visa situation and, initially, we were quite skeptical. At first blush it could not be said that there was an approvable visa opportunity in this case with its highly unusual circumstances. The applicant was very young; had only limited formal educations; had nothing special about him per se, beyond the fact that he had a solid family connection to the president of the local cooperative (his father).

On the plus side he was learning (and picking up quite quickly) Cantonese but his English was very limited. Moreover, he was sufficiently responsible and capable enough to be entrusted with the implementation of the technical advice into the Shenzhen operation which was, after all, slowly coming good.

Another problem was that the amount of capital committed to the Hong Kong side of the project was quite modest all told as it was planned that only after the technical challenges had been definitively addressed would truly substantial investment be injected to scale the operations on both sides of the Hong Kong/Shenzhen boundary.

Consequently, when you combine youth, limited education, lack of language skills and only modest funding for the Hong Kong side of the equation (and also that the farm itself is in China, not in the HKSAR) we were not very hopeful that an employment visa for his in these circumstances could in fact be approved.

So we rolled our sleeves up and questioned him at length about what, in fact, was so special about him and his appointment to the project beyond the fact that he was the son of the president of the cooperative. To our surprise, we learned about an inherent skill to eel farming that not everyone possesses.

This esoteric skill is akin to chicken sexing. Namely, when handling a juvenile eel from a cohort of the newly hatched, it is possible to innately appreciate from the strength and manner in the way that they flick their tails whether or not the genetic make-up of that batch is likely to grow out to market weight within the acceptable production time frames. When held in the palm of the hand, the viability of such juveniles can be assessed accordingly and this skill is a vital part of the technology transfer arrangements which underpinned the collaboration between Japan and Shenzhen – and our client had it!

In the pursuit of our client’s application, we provided the Hong Kong Immigration Department with all of the data and academic papers attesting to this phenomenon which was, albeit strange, completely true. To their credit, the Hong Kong ID accepted the argument and approved our client’s visa.

It came to my attention recently that a few travellers have had problems and issues getting visas for China. Everyone wants to visit the world’s most populated country so I’m here with my latest visa advice for China!! I’m heading to China again soon for my 6th visit and I want to explain an easy and simple way for you travellers to get your China Visa – it’s easy! All you need to do is… get yourself to HONG KONG!

In terms of defining a country, as far as I’m concerned Hong Kong is one. It has its own currency, flag, visa regulations and national football team. It was also British for a while, and that ended back in 1997. These days, lots of nationalities can get to Hong Kong without a Visa. You will get a stamp on arrival at the airport. If you arrive on a UK passport you can stay for 180 days no problem! A lot of nationalities also get a 90 day entry stamp – check with your embassy.

Hong Kong borders China, and there are about 5-6 different border entry points. I have passed through 4 of them in the last 12 months. But before you get there you will need a valid China Visa, unless you are Chinese or a nationality that doesn’t require one (possibly Cuba or other ‘Communist’ countries – check with your embassy).

There are literally hundreds of places in Hong Kong to get a China Visa and as far as I can tell, being in Hong Kong is by far and away the easiest and best way to get your visa for China, outside your home country, which as global nomads we are scarcely in.

So in Hong Kong… if you walk around Tsim Sha Tsui (particularly near the notorious Chung King Mansions on Nathan Road) people will just shout “China visa” at you and certainly they will sort you out very easily with a China Visa but most likely they will charge for the service and get you a single entry visa only. These guys that roam the streets of TST selling visas and the like are good if you need one quickly – make sure everything is valid when you’re with them – office, proper forms etc. (the form on the photo below is the front page of the current real China Visa Application). But you’re better to find an agency yourself, read on…
These days, I get double or multiple entry visas for China. But my first ever China Visa was a single entry, so do that for starters unless you are planning two trips. So where should I get the Visa done? Well as I mentioned there are countless agencies that do them in Hong Kong (and although it might be cheaper to go to the Embassy – DON’T). Use an agency. You’ll get your Visa easily, no problem, on time and can collect even after normal closing hours. They will even help you fill in the form and if you don’t have the things you need they will tell you what to do. These agencies often open all day Saturday, weekday nights and some even a half or part day Sunday. Yes, I know agencies charge a bit more and I’m a budget traveller but I also believe that “time is money” and these agencies are fast and helpful so they save you time. An agency I have used recently is and recommend is: China Travel Service (Hong Kong)

I recommend it – they have a lot of branches but believe me just turn up in Tsim Sha Tsui or Mong Kok and wander round the streets and you will see a place doing China Visas.

The link above contains all the information you will need, but I’ll shorten it for you here to make it easy, these are the things you need:

1. A valid passport with more than 6 months and 2 empty pages left in it

2. One passport photo

3. A completed Application Form, the key points are:

– They will ask for entrance point – always put Shenzhen as that way they know you are crossing the border on foot – which you will do if you go HK – China. I’ve always put Shenzhen. Thousands of tourists and business travellers pass the Hong Kong to Shenzhen border every day.

– They will ask for for expected date of travel – just make this up if you don’t know when you are heading – you will have three months (I think) from the date printed on the visa to enter. No big deal this question.

– There is a section for hotel/where you are staying. I normally just write a hotel name in the city I’m visiting on that trip, or write – staying with friends. On none of my 4 recent trips have I actually stayed in the place I wrote on the form. They never check. If they do then you will need to book a hostel or hotel online and print it to show them (I’ve never heard of this actually happening though).

– Do you have Medical Insurance? Just write ‘No’ in the box. Trust me!

– Type of Visa – I advise if this is your first time to get a SINGLE ENTRY. It’s no risk as there is a slight chance that they may not give you a DOUBLE ENTRY straight away. Once you have your single or double entries, next up apply for a multiple entry (I’m lucky at present that I have a valid HK ID card so a multiple entry is no problem)

4. Payment (this varies depending on nationality – a single entry can be between 350 – 500 Hong Kong Dollars (less than £40 or $50 US)

5. Attend in person to hand in the form and voila!!

You also have the option of collecting it in a rush in ONE working day (for an extra cost), 2-3 working days (extra cost) or just what I do – regular 4 – 7 working days (the normal price).

SO there you have it folks! It’s easy to get a China Visa in Hong Kong. What are you waiting for? Get out there and see it!! China is an amazing country and to be honest it’s one you should never neglect. I’ve been 6 times and counting! Here’s 3 top photo highlights so far to get you in the mood to do China!!

We didn’t plan to visit Hong Kong. But…

…getting a tourist visa for China is quite easy, but for a working visa and residence permit, you need a bit of time, patience and help of local agent, once you are in the country.

The Chinese visa laws are complicated and obscure even for the local specialists in the feild. Foreign employers have to leave China, cross the border just for couple of days, receive Z visa, then they can return back to mainland and get work permit. It’s easier to cross border to Hong Kong. ( Despite the fact that Hong Kong now is special administrative region(SAR) of China (PRC), border still exists).

Hong Kong (HK) is located on China’s south coast, and it borders on the north with Shenzhen city of Guangdong province. If you want to be better oriented, you need to understand that the HK area consists of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories and over 200 islands. The biggest of them is Lantau Island. The northern part of Hong Kong Island together with Kowloon forms the core urban area of Hong Kong.

We had been (had to go to) in Hong Kong twice and spent there about 7 days in total. Our impression was different on each of this visits. Of course it depended on a hotel that we’ve stayed in and places we’ve visited. Honk Kong is known as expensive city. A price of hotels and hostels inappropriately high, but it quite depends on location.

When I did a research in internet sites, I saw many terrible comments about hostels and inexpensive hotels in the center of the city. I decided to reserve one remote hotel far from the center of interests and our visa agency (Tsim Sha Tsui area). The hotel was in the area called Tsuen Wan (new territories). The internet sites showed, that it is good level hotel with relatively low price. It appeared to be a good decision: spacious room, swimming pool and sauna after long trip inside and outside the city can improve any damaged impression. But it required additional expense for road to the center of the city. Hong Kong’s transportation network is highly developed. To avoid traffic jam, it is better to use subway (MTR). A big plus is a complimentary shuttle bus, that runs between the hotel and Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station.

On our second arrival, we wanted to be closer to the visa agency, so we reserved room in a hostel in Kowloon. I think it was worst room that we saw in our life. Kowloon is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. The streets in that area were so overcrowded that we could move only in same direction with other people. We advise you not to try to move against the flow, because if you do, then in one minute you will stumble on 1000 people.

The room was like small carton box, without windows, that reminded a terrible movie… The funny thing is, that inspite of the fact that the room size was just quarter of the Royal View hotel room, it didn’t save much money. Location – this is wat we were paying for here.

During our stays in Hong Kong, we’ve managed to visit Hong Kong park, Flagstaff House Tea Ware Museum and Ocean Park. In Kowloon we’ve visited seafront, Avenue of Stars and Ladies Market. Two days we spent in Sai Kung district and one on Lamma Island. Both Sai Kung and Lamma made a big impression on us, and they both worth a separate post to be written about them.

Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Park is like small beautiful island of the nature, a breath of freash air inside the urban area of Hong Kong. In the park you can find a number of old garrison buildings built between 1842 and 1910. They are the remains of mighty Great British Empire rule.

At the center of the Park is located an artificial lake and a waterfall. There’s a flowing water running through the park, which has been employed as a thematic motif to link the different features of the park by waterfalls, streams, ponds and cliffs from artificial rocks.

The Museum of Tea Ware is located within the park. The museum includes samples of the teapots from different provinces and other different tea ware as they evolved with time. More interesting for us were examples of different kind of tea and explanations about history and ways of making tea. If you are a fan of Chinese Tea, you must visit the Tea Ware Museum in Hong Kong.

Note: You can get to the park by MTR, Admiralty station exit C1.

On the next day we’ve visited the Ocean Park. It is located on the southern side of Hong Kong Island and you will need to reserve a full day for visiting it. You can buy the tickets in many places, including “Seven Eleven” and other small stores, but the prices may be different – from 250 to 350HK$. It is better to buy the tickets at metro stations, because there they are cheaper. Transportation to the park is very well organized. From Admiralty metro station you need to follow to signs and take a bus number 629. Price of the bus is about 10 HG$ per person.

The park is separated by a large mountain into two areas, The Summit (Headland) and The Waterfront (Lowland) respectively. The areas can be reached by cable car with spectacular views of the nearby islands and the sea. The great aquarium was good, the dolphin/sea-lion show was great too and we only tried some of the rides, because the queues to them seamed endless.

Avenue of Stars

The sea-front Avenue of Stars is like Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The stars with names and handprints of Hong Kong’s actors and singers are embedded in the sidewalks of Kowloon’s promenade: Jackie Chan and Jet Li, Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung and many many others. They are all a famous people, but I admit, there were a lot of Chinese names, that we saw for the first time in our life. At the beginning of the Avenue stands life-size statue of kung fu action legend Bruce Lee. We couldn’t resist to take a photo there.

On the other side of Victoria Harbour we saw the famous skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island, it’s probably best scenic spot in the city. Each night all the skyscrapers come to life with an incredible lase and light show.

Oh yes, and don’t forget to visit the Starbucks, which is nicely located on the promenade with view on the harbour.

Ladies’ Market

Almost every travel guide advises you to visit the Ladies’ Market for cheap shopping. It may be indeed an interesting experience. It is a long street full of many things, sometimes, if not to say “mostly”, of a very low quality. But here you can find very beautiful traditional Chinese souvenirs and test your bargain muscles. On the sides of the street behind a market stalls we’ve found many good small restaurants of different kinds of food (Japanese, Korean, Chinese etc.). They are cheap and really delicious. So if you are tired of shopping, you allays can escape to one of them.

The culture shock… again.

When we crossed the border again, back to mainland, our friend – “culture shock” waited for us there. It is hard to describe this feeling. It felt like we left the organized, clean, silent house and stepped right into the noisy market, full of smells of bad cigarettes, toilets and dust. At this moment we felt how strong is still the difference between life in Hong Kong and mainland China.

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