My discovery of the Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa (WHV) came at just the right time for me.
Hong Kong holds a special place in my heart; my dad moved there in 2006 and I have visited him more times than I can remember since then.
It’s become my second home.
When my dad decided to open a restaurant on Lantau Island, I was about to leave Australia and I offered to come to Hong Kong to help him out for his first year.
I couldn’t get an employment visa as I didn’t have a degree or 10 years’ professional experience.
So, we did some digging and found out that a Working Holiday Visa was an option for me! (My only option, really).
Here’s how to apply for your own Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa.
Note: this article is based on my experience, but PLEASE ensure that you also carefully read all of the criteria on the official immigration website.
The important first step, as I mentioned above, is to head to the Hong Kong Immigration Department website and check their eligibility criteria.
The Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa scheme is available for nationals of 14 participating countries, and the full list is available on the website.
Each of those nationalities have different rules and restrictions regarding how long they can work/study and for how many employers.
There is also an annual quota which varies between nationalities.
There are, however, some requirements that apply to everyone. You must:
- Be between 18 and 30 years old.
- Have a valid passport for one of the 14 participating countries.
- Be able to provide proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself, as well as enough for an outward ticket if you don’t already have one booked.
- Be covered by insurance for the entirety of your stay.
The WHV is 12 months long, no matter your nationality, and costs 230 HKD (around 23 GBP / 27 EUR).
Once you’re sure that you are eligible for the visa, it’s time to apply!
Unfortunately, there is not yet a simple online application process.
You can download and print the appropriate form from the website here, and then you need to fill it out by hand and either post it or hand-deliver it to the Immigration Department in Hong Kong or the Chinese diplomatic and consular mission in your country.
Payment of the 230 HKD must be included with your application as either a cashier order or bank draft and must be in Hong Kong Dollars. Do not send cash!
These details do make the process a bit harder, but it’s definitely worth persevering.
I was lucky in that I was already in the country on a tourist visa when I submitted my application, which made the process easier for me.
When I received my visa label, I took a quick day trip to Macau. I returned to Hong Kong with the label in my passport and that was it!
My Working Holiday Visa was up and running!
Life in Hong Kong
Once you’re in Hong Kong, you will need to set up a bank account as a priority before you start working.
Just walk into one of the many banks in the city (I used HSBC) and they will help you to open an account.
There are plenty of guesthouses located in the city, but you’ll likely want to find an apartment once you’ve decided where to settle for a while.
Websites such as Geoexpat are good for finding apartments in the city.
I recommend getting a place with a rooftop if you can as most apartments are pretty small and the outdoor space is very valuable.
It’s worth noting that if you have a degree, it will be much easier for you to find well-paying jobs and you may even get sponsored to stay!
The first year of work is tax-free, meaning you won’t have to pay any tax on your WHV.
Make sure you take some time to explore outside of the city as well; Hong Kong’s islands and beaches are not to be missed!
Ready to go?
I hope that you love Hong Kong’s unique charm and beauty as much as I do.
There is a huge expat community, meaning that you’re bound to meet other travellers as well as locals.
Take a wander down some back streets and there’s no telling what secluded little stores and cafes you could find!
Most importantly, take in as much of the amazing mixture of cultures as you can, do plenty of exploring and have the time of your life!
Is there anything else you’d like to know? Are you planning your own trip to Hong Kong? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Hong Kong: escaping the chaos
- How a Working Holiday Visa could change your life
- Moving to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa
- Moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa
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