Residency in Hong Kong: The CIES Now Accepts Application

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The Long-Awaited Announcement
On March 1, Hong Kong officially started accepting applications for the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (“CIES”),a new residence-by-investment program enabling eligible applicants to obtain residency in Hong Kong by investing HKD 30 million or more in a range of permissible assets. Known as the pearl of the Orient, Hong Kong has long been recognized as one of the most liveable cities for expatriates worldwide, it is not surprising that the CIES has already received over 1000 inquiries and applications to date since its launch. In this article, we will provide you with an overview of this scheme ranging from its criteria to offerings so that you can better understand why it is so highly regarded among applicants.

Why Hong Kong?

There are a multitude of factors making Hong Kong one of the most popular immigration destinations. First, appealed by its competitive tax system and generous allowances, many foreign investors have found Hong Kong an excellent place to establish their businesses. From a geographical perspective, Hong Kong undoubtedly enjoys an ideal location that enables individuals and companies to tap into an array of opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, thanks to Hong Kong’s cultural charm, mesmerizing cityscape, and expat-friendly environment, more foreigners are choosing to settle in this cosmopolitan city.

Check If You are a Qualifying Applicant for CIES

The CIES accepts applications from foreign nationals, Chinese nationals who are permanent residents in a foreign country, Chinese residents of Taiwan, or Macao residents. However, the CIES does not apply to nationals of Afghanistan, Cuba, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Eligible applicants should also be aged 18 or above, free from any adverse immigration history, and they must demonstrate a net asset value of not less than HK$30 million throughout the two years preceding the application. Speaking of the investment obligation, applicants would need to invest HKD30 million or more in permissible asset classes. Successful applicants may bring their dependant family members to Hong Kong, including spouses and unmarried dependent children under 18 years old.

Diversified Investment Options

The distinctive advantage of CIES is its wide range of permissible investment assets, this way, applicants enjoy a high degree of autonomy to better arrange and diversify their investment portfolio. To elaborate, the applicant will need to invest a minimum of HKD 27 million in one or a combination of the following specified asset classes:

    • Equities, notably shares of listed companies on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (“SEHK”);
    • Debt securities listed on the SEHK, and the fixed or floating rate instruments and convertible bonds issued or fully guaranteed by the Hong Kong Government, the Exchange Fund, the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation, MTR Corporation Limited, Hong Kong Airport Authority, and other corporations, agencies or bodies owned by the Hong Kong Government;
    • Certificates of Deposits issued by authorized institutions with a remaining term to maturity of not less than 12 months at the time of purchase, subject to a cap of HKD3 million;
    • Subordinated debt issued by authorized institutions;
    • Eligible collective investment schemes including Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”)-authorized funds, SFC-authorized real estate investment trusts, SFC-authorised Investment-Linked Assurance Schemes, and open-ended fund companies managed by corporations licensed by or institutions registered with the SFC;
    • Ownership interest in limited partnership funds, subject to a cap of HKD 10 million; and
    • Non-residential real estate including pre-completion properties and excluding land, subject to a cap of HKD 10 million.

Separately, the applicant will also need to place HKD 3 million into a new CIES Investment Portfolio overseen by the Hong Kong Investment Corporation Limited. The main goal of this Portfolio is to invest in companies or projects supporting the long-term development of Hong Kong’s economy.

An Overview of the Application Process

Under the scheme, two institutions will engage in examining the application: 1) Invest Hong Kong will assess whether the applicant fulfills the net asset, investment fulfillment, and portfolio maintenance requirements, and 2) the Hong Kong Immigration Department will assess the visa and extensions of stay applications.

Successful applicants will normally be granted permission to stay for not more than two years, they are allowed to take up employment or establish a business in Hong Kong. Upon the expiry of the authorized stay period, the applicant may apply for an extension of stay for not more than three years and may subsequently apply for another 3 years of stay on the same basis. After not less than seven years of continuous ordinary residence, the applicant and his dependents may apply to become Hong Kong permanent residents.

Kickstarting Your Immigration Journey to Hong Kong

The preparation of an immigration application can be complex, not to mention the need to deal with multiple institutions like Invest Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Immigration Department. If the application package is not carefully prepared, this may lead to potential processing delays. The best way to avoid setbacks is to engage an immigration lawyer who can help you navigate the application process smoothly and efficiently.

If you are interested in learning more about the residency in Hong Kong with the CIES scheme , please contact your local HLG office here for more details. Our lawyers would be delighted to conduct a free preliminary assessment and consider if you are eligible to apply for the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme.

Founded in 1992, Harvey Law Group (HLG) is a leading multinational law firm with offices across Asia, North and South America, Europe, and Africa to cater to your specific needs for immigration and beyond.


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