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A Practical Guide to the Hong Kong Quality Migrant Admission Scheme

Author Syahirah Aiman AbbasSyahirah Aiman Abbas

5 min read
Better Business

Looking to hire specialised individuals from overseas to work for you in your Hong Kong company? Then you’ll need to get acquainted with this scheme.

A Practical Guide to the Hong Kong Quality Migrant Admission Scheme

You might want to hire specialised individuals to work for you when you register a Hong Kong company. If so, you might want to take a look at the Hong Kong Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS). Understand it so you know what the process and requirements are.

What is the Hong Kong Quality Migrant Admission Scheme?

A quota-based entrant scheme introduced in 2006, the Hong Kong Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) invites visa applications from skilled individuals and entrepreneurs who intend to live in Hong Kong to embark on their professional careers or start up their own businesses here.

A highly coveted visa, applicants need to fulfil the QMAS’ prerequisites before being eligible to apply, and thereafter, pass a points-based test. They may choose to be assessed either under the General Points Test or Achievement-based Points Test. A minimum passing mark (80 points out of maximum 225), is set under the General Points Test. Applicants choosing the Achievement-based Points Test must ensure that they have an outstanding profile since it is an all or nothing test.

Finally, they compete for quota allocation (read, luck). Yes, really. From the Immigration Department’s website, “Meeting the minimum passing mark or high-scoring applications do not necessarily secure quota allotment”. Successful applicants selected under QMAS’ General Points Test will usually be issued a 24 months visa, while those chosen under the Achievement-based Points Test will normally be granted a stay of eight years.

What are the benefits of the QMAS visa?

  1. No employment offer prior to arrival in Hong Kong needed;
  2. Dependants visa is attainable;
  3. Dependants are free to work or study in Hong Kong;
  4. The QMAS visa could be renewed, and after 7 years, the applicant and dependents may apply for the right of abode in Hong Kong.

What is the quota and approval rate? What is the profile of successful applicants?

Up to 1,000 applicants yearly may be admitted into Hong Kong under this scheme. In 2019, HK’s Immigration Department approved 874 applications - below is the breakdown by nationalities:

Osome HK Annual Report QMAS
Source: Annual Report on the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme for 2019

51% of these successful applicants were from Financial, Accounting Services, Information Technology and Telecommunications sectors.

Who is eligible to apply?

Except for nationalities of these countries: Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, Korea, Nepal and Vietnam, QMAS visa is open for all foreigners to apply if they fulfil these requirements:


18 or above when applying for HK’s QMAS visa.

Financial requirement

Able to support and accommodate themselves and dependents, if any, on their own resources without relying on Hong Kong’s public assistance.

Good character

No criminal record or adverse immigration record in Hong Kong or elsewhere.

Language proficiency

Proficient in written and spoken Chinese (Putonghua or Cantonese) or English.

Basic educational qualification

Degree from a recognized university/tertiary institution.

Good technical qualifications, professional experiences and achievements supported by documentary evidence may also be considered.

Who can applicants bring along with them?

Applicants under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme visa may apply here to bring in and sponsor their spouses and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18 to Hong Kong. They can submit their accompanying family members’ visa or entry permit applications together with their own entry applications.

The length of stay of the dependants will usually be linked to that of their sponsors. Dependant visa holders may work or study in Hong Kong.

What are the documents needed?

This is the checklist for the documents that you would need, however, do not fret, we at Osome could guide you through this too!:

  • Completed Application Form (English or Chinese Version);

A copy of each of the following:

  • The personal particulars page of your passport, and the latest arrival stamp or extension of stay given that you are physically present in Hong Kong at the time you apply;
  • A completed Dependants visa application form along with supporting documents for each of the accompanying family members;
  • Proof of personal net worth like bank, investments and businesses statements, etc.;
  • Proof of language proficiency in Chinese or English (language certificates, etc.);
  • Both copies and originals of proof of academic qualifications like graduation certificates, transcripts, etc., of the applicant and accompanying spouse;
  • Proof of academic (both you and spouse) and/or professional qualification or personal achievement, e.g. graduate degrees, reference letter, employment contract, etc.

All documents should be in or officially translated into English or Chinese. The Immigration authorities might also request for additional documents.

What are the application process, processing time, and fee?

Timeline Process
Within 1 week from receipt of application

Step 1: Application

You can submit the application form and required documents by post or in-person by at the Hong Kong Immigration Department (HKID), who would notify when they receive your application.

Regular basis, normally quarterly

Step 2: Selection

Your application would be ranked against others according to the points-based test. HKID’s decision of quota allocation would be based on the socio-economic needs of Hong Kong, the sectoral mix of candidates, among other factors. If your field of expertise is much needed in Hong Kong, your chances are much greater.

Published on the Immigration Dept’s website within 15 working days of selection result

Step 3: Selection Result

The outcome of each selection exercise, including the quota allotment, would be published on HKID’s website.

Within 3 months from the result, successful applicant invited to HK for interview

Step 4: Approval-in-Principle

When you successfully secure a quota, you will receive an Approval-in-Principle Letter, allowing you to travel into Hong Kong to attend a face-to-face interview.

Within 1 week of verification of original documents

Step 5: Documents Verification and Issuing of Visa/Entry Permit

Once all of the procedures are completed, the last hurdle is to prove that these documents are genuine and verified. And finally, the QMAS visa would be yours!

  • From application form submission until Approval-in-Principle, it could approximately take 8-12 months
  • No fee is charged for document submission
  • HK$260 is charged for a grant of visa or entry permit

General Points Test

Under the General Points Test, there are six point-scoring factors relating to age, academic/professional qualifications, work experience, language proficiency, profession sector, and family background. The minimum passing mark is 80 out of a maximum of 225 Points.

According to HK’s Talent List 2020, these 11 professions would earn applicants an extra 30 points:

  1. Waste Treatment Specialists
  2. Asset Management Professionals
  3. Marine Insurance Professionals
  4. Actuaries
  5. Fintech Professionals
  6. Data Scientists & Cyber Security Specialists
  7. Innovation and Technology Experts
  8. Naval Architects
  9. Marine Engineers & Superintendents of Ships
  10. Creative Industries Professionals
  11. Dispute Resolution Professionals & Transactional Lawyers

Achievement-based Points Test

Individuals with exceptional talent or skill with outstanding achievements will be awarded 225 points, e.g. Olympic medalists, Nobel prize winners, or lifetime-achievement award recipients from their industries.

Let us consider the profiles of these two applicants:

  1. Lee, 35 (+30 points), a Chinese national, is married (+5) with one child, aged 1 (+5). He has a Masters’ Degree from Peking University (+20), and he has been working as a Senior Cybersecurity Engineer (+30) for 5 years (+15). He is fluent in both Cantonese and English (+20). He wants to work and live in HK with his family. Under the General Points test, Lee would have earned 125 points.
  2. Hypothetically, Michael Phelps, aged 35, a US citizen, wants to migrate to Hong Kong. As a 28 times Olympic medalist, he would be awarded all 225 points.

If you are thinking of applying into Hong Kong’s Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, or exploring ways to be a more permanent resident and open your company in Hong Kong, do reach out to us! We will point you to the right direction.


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