Right of Abode

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Q1. Who can enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR?

According to paragraph 2(a) to (f) of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, which came into operation on 1 July 1997, you are a permanent resident of, and can enjoy the right of abode in, the HKSAR if you fall into one of the following categories:

(a)

A Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.

(b)

A Chinese citizen who has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.

(c)

A person of Chinese nationality born outside Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR to a parent who, at the time of birth of that person, was a Chinese citizen falling within category (a) or (b).

(d)

A person not of Chinese nationality who has entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years and has taken Hong Kong as his or her place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.

(e)

A person under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong to a parent who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR in category (d) before or after the establishment of the HKSAR if at the time of his or her birth, or at any later time before he or she attains 21 years of age, one parent has the right of abode in Hong Kong.

(f)

A person other than those residents in categories (a) to (e), who, before the establishment of the HKSAR, had the right of abode in Hong Kong only.

Q2. How can I apply for right of abode while I am in the HKSAR?

Under the law, a valid permanent identity card is evidence that the person to whom the card relates enjoys the right of abode in Hong Kong.

Before you proceed to register for the issue of a permanent identity card, you will need to show that you are eligible for registration under the Registration of Persons Ordinance and Regulations. For this purpose, an administrative arrangement has been made for you to apply for verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card. Under normal circumstances, you should submit a completed application form with copies of supporting documents by post or drop in to:

Right of Abode Section
Immigration Department
25/F Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road Wan Chai
Hong Kong

Form ROP169: Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card - Applicable for persons 18 years of age or above who are holders of One-way Permit

Form ROP170: Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card - Applicable for children below 18 years of age who are holders of One-way Permit

Form ROP145: Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card (For other applicants)

Alternatively, you can apply online through the following link

Online Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card

You must be in Hong Kong at the time of application. Applications from overseas will not be entertained. Normally it will take six weeks to process your application if all of the supporting documents provided are in order, but it may take longer depending on the complexity and the number of applications received at a particular time.

Q3. How can I obtain an endorsement of permanent residence on a foreign passport for my children who are under 11 years old?

If you have eligible children aged under 11 who hold valid foreign travel documents, an endorsement can be made in those foreign travel documents stating your children’s verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card.

A child’s father, mother or guardian can make that application by submitting a completed application form with copies of supporting documents by post or drop in to:

Right of Abode Section
Immigration Department
25/F Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road
Wan Chai
Hong Kong

Form ROP169: Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card - Applicable for persons 18 years of age or above who are holders of One-way Permit

Form ROP170: Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card - Applicable for children below 18 years of age who are holders of One-way Permit

Form ROP145: Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card (For other applicants)

Alternatively, you can apply online through the following link

Online Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card

After verification of their eligibility for permanent identity cards, your children’s previous condition of stay in the foreign passports, if any, will be cancelled. Then, you can apply on their behalf for an endorsement to be made in their valid foreign passports stating “Holder’s eligibility for Hong Kong permanent identity card verified”.

The fee for making such an endorsement to a travel document is HK$200.

Your children must be present in Hong Kong at the time of application for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card, as well as when that endorsement is given to them. Permanent identity cards will be issued upon application when your children reach the age of 11 provided they have not lost their right of abode in the HKSAR.

Q4. Under what circumstances will a permanent resident of the HKSAR lose his or her permanent resident status?

If you are a permanent resident of the HKSAR but not of Chinese nationality, you will lose your permanent resident status under the following circumstances.

Permanent Resident Category
(Non-Chinese Nationals)

Circumstances under which Permanent Resident Status will be Lost

(a)

A person not of Chinese nationality who has entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years and has taken Hong Kong as his or her place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.

  • If you have been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months since you ceased to have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong.

(b)

A person under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong to a parent who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR in category (a) above before or after the establishment of the HKSAR if at the time of his or her birth or at any later time before he or she attains 21 years of age, one parent has the right of abode in Hong Kong.

  • If you have been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months since you ceased to have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong; or
  • On attaining the age of 21 years, you will cease to be a permanent resident of the HKSAR. You will then have to qualify on your own merits in accordance with the requirements stipulated in category (a) above. If you meet all of the requirements, you can apply for permanent resident status.

(c)

A person other than those residents in paragraphs 2(a) to 2(e) of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, who, before the establishment of the HKSAR, had the right of abode in Hong Kong only.

  • If you have been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months after you obtained the right of abode in any place other than Hong Kong and have ceased to have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong.

(d)

A person under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong on or after 1 July 1997 to a parent who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR under category (c) above at the time of the birth of the person if, but for this provision, the person would have no right of abode in any place, including Hong Kong.

  • If you have been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months after you obtained the right of abode in any place other than Hong Kong and have ceased to have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong; or
  • On attaining the age of 21 years, you will cease to be a permanent resident of the HKSAR. You will then have to qualify on your own merits in accordance with the requirements stipulated in category (a) above. If you meet all of the requirements, you can apply for permanent resident status.

(e)

A person who is not of Chinese nationality and who was a permanent resident of Hong Kong before 1 July 1997.

  • If you have been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months since you ceased to have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong.

Right to land

If you lose your right of abode in the HKSAR you will automatically acquire the right to land in the HKSAR in accordance with the law. This means that you will be able to enter Hong Kong freely to live, study or work without any restriction.

You may ascertain whether you have lost the status of a permanent resident of the HKSAR by applying for verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card with the Right of Abode Section of the Immigration Department for assessment of whether you have lost the permanent resident status and have the right to land in the HKSAR.

Office Address and Working Hours of Right of Abode Section

Q5. How can I register for an identity card if I have left Hong Kong before my application for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card is approved?

If you have left Hong Kong before your application is approved, a letter will be issued to you or your local representative by post informing you that your permanent resident status has been verified. You can then go to any Registration of Persons Office to register for a permanent identity card with the approval letter upon your next return to Hong Kong.

If you have acquired permanent resident status in Hong Kong under the provisions for non-Chinese citizens of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, Cap 115, please note the circumstances under which a permanent resident of non-Chinese nationality can lose his or her permanent resident status as listed in Q4 above.

Q6. How can 'Permit for Proceeding to Hong Kong and Macau' (One-way Permit) entrants who have resided in Hong Kong for 7 years apply for the right of abode in the HKSAR?

If you are a One-way Permit entrant who has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years, you can apply for verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card by completing application form (ROP169 / ROP170) to establish your right of abode in the HKSAR.

Form 169: Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card – Applicable for persons 18 years of age or above who are holders of One-way Permit

Form ROP170: Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card - Applicable for children below 18 years of age who are holders of One-way Permit

You can send in the completed application form together with copies of supporting documents (including your identity card, One-way Permit and Document of Identity) by post or drop in to:

Right of Abode Section
Immigration Department
25/F Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road 
Wan Chai
Hong Kong

Alternatively, you can apply online through the following link

> Online Application for Verification of Eligibility for Permanent Identity Card

On receipt of your application, the Right of Abode Section will contact you to follow up your case.

Applications for verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card and the first issue of a permanent identity card are free of charge.

Q7. Former Mainland residents who entered Hong Kong with One-Way Permits for settlement often make trips back to the Mainland after they have settled in Hong Kong. Will these frequent trips affect their eligibility for permanent resident status in the HKSAR?

If you are a One-Way Permit entrant who has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years, you can submit an application to verify your eligibility for permanent resident status in the HKSAR.

A person does not cease to be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong if he or she is temporarily absent from Hong Kong. The circumstances of the person and the absence are relevant in determining whether a person has ceased to be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong. The circumstances may include the reason, duration and frequency of any absence from Hong Kong, whether the person has habitual residence in Hong Kong, whether the person is employed by a Hong Kong based company and the whereabouts of the principal family members (spouse and minor children).

Q8. I was born in Hong Kong and emigrated overseas in the 1980s. I am now holding a foreign passport. Am I still a Chinese citizen? Can I enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR?

If you were a Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong before the establishment of the HKSAR, you will still be regarded as a Chinese citizen unless you have made a declaration of change of nationality to the HKSAR Immigration Department.  You are eligible for Hong Kong permanent resident status under Paragraph 2(a) of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, Cap 115.  You will not lose your Hong Kong permanent resident status even if you have been absent from Hong Kong for long periods.

Q9. Can former Hong Kong residents who have emigrated overseas for a long time and held the old type of identity card enjoy right of abode in Hong Kong?

If you hold an old type of identity card and are a Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong or who has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years, you may be eligible for Hong Kong permanent resident status under paragraph 2(a) or 2(b) of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, Cap 115.

On your next return to Hong Kong, you can apply for verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card by completing application form with supporting documents to establish your right of abode in the HKSAR.

When eligibility for a permanent identity card is verified, you can proceed to register for a permanent identity card at a Registration of Persons Office.

If you consider yourself qualify for permanent resident status under other provisions of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, Cap 115, you may submit an application to the Right of Abode Section of the Immigration Department to verify your status upon your next return to Hong Kong.

Q10. If I have emigrated overseas and I am an overseas resident (e.g. become a US resident, holder of US green card but have not yet naturalized as a US citizen), can my child born in a foreign country (e.g. US or Canada) enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR?

If a child has acquired a foreign nationality at birth to parents of Chinese nationality who have settled overseas (e.g. in the USA) at the time of the child’s birth, regardless of whether or not the parents have acquired the foreign nationality, the child does not have Chinese nationality in accordance with Article 5 of the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China. As the child is not a Chinese citizen, he or she is not eligible for Hong Kong permanent resident status.

Supplementary Information

Under paragraph 2(c) of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, Cap 115, a person of Chinese nationality born outside Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR to a parent who, at the time of birth of that person, was a Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong or has resided ordinarily in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years, is a permanent resident of the HKSAR and can enjoy the right of abode in Hong Kong.

However, for a Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong or has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years, his or her child’s eligibility for the right of abode in Hong Kong depends on whether this child has Chinese nationality at the time of birth.

Article 5 of Chinese Nationality Law states that: “Any person born abroad whose parents are both Chinese nationals or one of whose parents is a Chinese national shall have Chinese nationality. But a person whose parents are both Chinese nationals and have both settled abroad, or one of whose parents is a Chinese national and has settled abroad, and who has acquired foreign nationality at birth shall not have Chinese nationality.”

Under normal circumstances, having permanent resident status in a foreign country (that is, having resided abroad ordinarily and not being subject to any limit of stay) will be treated as having settled abroad.

Q11. I am a non-Chinese citizen born in the USA and hold a US passport. I came to Hong Kong in 1998 and have been working here since. As I have resided in Hong Kong for over 7 years, can I enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR?

Under paragraph 2(d) of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, Cap 115, a person not of Chinese nationality who has entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years and has taken Hong Kong as his or her place of permanent residence is a permanent resident of the HKSAR.

You must be staying in Hong Kong legally when you apply for verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card. The continuous period of 7 years in which you have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong must be immediately before the date that you apply to the Director of Immigration for the status of a permanent resident of the HKSAR.

When you submit an application, you will be required to provide information and make a declaration that you have taken Hong Kong as your only place of permanent residence. The information may include whether you have habitual residence in Hong Kong, whether the principal members of your family (spouse and minor children) are in Hong Kong, whether you have a reasonable means of income to support yourself and your family and whether you have paid taxes in accordance with the law.

Q12. My parents were Chinese migrants who settled in Hong Kong. I was born in Hong Kong in 1968. Three years later, my whole family emigrated overseas. I am now preparing to return to Hong Kong for employment and intend to declare a change of nationality. Can I still enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR?

Hong Kong residents of Chinese nationality holding foreign passports may make a declaration of change of nationality to the Immigration Department with valid supporting documents. When their change of nationality has been approved, they will not be regarded as Chinese citizens and they will be able to enjoy consular protection in the HKSAR from the country of their declared nationality.

Likewise, when your declaration of change of nationality has been approved, you will not be regarded as a Chinese citizen.  Although you were born in Hong Kong and a Hong Kong permanent resident before 1 July 1997, as you are not of Chinese nationality after approval of your change of nationality and you have not returned to settle in Hong Kong in accordance with the transitional provisions under paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance and you have been absent from Hong Kong for a period of not less than 36 months when you return to settle in Hong Kong, you will lose the status of a permanent resident and cannot enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR.

Even you have no right of abode in the HKSAR, you can enjoy the right to land in Hong Kong.  You will still be able to enter Hong Kong freely to live, study and work, without any restriction.  Later on, if you can fulfil the provisions for non-Chinese nationals (entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years and have taken Hong Kong as your place of permanent residence), you may become a permanent resident of the HKSAR and enjoy the right of abode in Hong Kong again.

Q13. I am a Hong Kong permanent resident and my fiancée is a foreigner with no right of abode in the HKSAR. Can she, as a spouse of a Hong Kong permanent resident, enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR?

In general, spouses of Hong Kong permanent residents cannot acquire the right of abode in the HKSAR by virtue of their marriage unless they are eligible on their own accord for Hong Kong permanent resident status under Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance.

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