Immigration Policy on Study

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Eligibility Criteria and Application Procedures

Q3: I am enrolled in a course which is on the register of non-local higher education or professional courses as set up under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance (Cap. 493). If the course is not locally-accredited, can I apply for entry to take such course?

You may apply for entry to take such a course provided that its mode of attendance is full-time. However, this entry arrangement does not apply to:

  1. Chinese residents of the Mainland and Taiwan;
  2. former Mainland Chinese residents settled in Macao who were not settled there by 14 January 1979; and
  3. nationals of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, Korea (Democratic People's Republic of), Nepal and Vietnam.
Q4: Are diploma courses or certificate courses defined as sub-degree programmes?

Sub-degree programmes consist of associate degree and higher diploma programmes only.

Q5: What kind of courses are defined as post-secondary programmes?

According to information provided by the Education Bureau, sub-degree programmes, undergraduate programmes, postgraduate programmes and those programmes which are classified as Qualification Framework (QF) Level 4 or above by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) are in general classified as post-secondary programmes.

Entry and Travelling Arrangements

Q6: What are the entry arrangements for students from overseas, Macao and Taiwan who are approved to take up their studies in Hong Kong?

Successful students from overseas and Macao will be issued with a self-adhesive visa/entry permit label which is collected from the Other Visas and Permits Section of the Immigration Department by the sponsor for onward transmission to the student. For applications submitted to Chinese diplomatic and consular missions or the Immigration Division of the Office of the Government of the HKSAR in Beijing (Beijing Office), visas/entry permits will be issued through the relevant Chinese diplomatic and consular missions or the Immigration Division of the Beijing Office as appropriate.

The students must affix the visa/entry permit labels onto their travel documents or "Visit Permit for Residents of Macao to HKSAR" (for Macao students only) and enter Hong Kong on the strength of the documents. Full-time students from Taiwan will be issued with a single-journey entry permit which is collected from the Other Visas and Permits Section by the sponsor for onward transmission to the student. The student must enter Hong Kong on the strength of the entry permit. Part-time students from Taiwan will be issued with a multiple-journey entry permit label. The multiple-journey entry permit label is to be affixed onto the student's Declaration of Identity for Visa Purposes, a copy of which the student has to furnish to the Immigration Department upon application.

Q7: What are the entry arrangements for Mainland students who are approved to take up their studies in Hong Kong?

Successful applicants from the Mainland will be issued with a self-adhesive entry permit label which is collected from the Quality Migrants and Mainland Residents Section of the Immigration Department by the educational institution for onward transmission to the student. Mainland student should apply for an "Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao" (EEP) and a relevant exit endorsement from the Public Security Bureau office where his/her household registration is kept. The entry permit label should be affixed onto a blank endorsement page of the EEP on which his/her relevant exit endorsement has been obtained. The applicant should present the EEP for immigration examination upon arrival in the HKSAR. In case the applicant’s EEP bearing the relevant exit endorsement is an electronic EEP, it should be presented together with the entry permit label issued to him/her for immigration arrival clearance.

Q8: Can I affix the entry permit label onto my PRC passport instead of the EEP?

It is inappropriate to affix the entry permit label onto the PRC passport or other travel documents. You should follow the procedures mentioned at A7.

Q9: If a full-time student from Taiwan has entered Hong Kong to take up studies on the strength of a single entry permit, what documents can he apply for to facilitate his future travel to and from Hong Kong?

After entering Hong Kong on the strength of the single entry permit, Taiwan students may apply for a "Multiple Entry Permit" (MEP) and transfer of endorsement onto the MEP to facilitate future travel to and from Hong Kong.

Extension of Stay

Q10: When and how to apply for extension of stay to continue my studies in Hong Kong?

In general, non-local students admitted to take up studies in full-time locally-accredited local and non-local post secondary programmes will be granted a length of stay in line with the normal duration of their study programmes, subject to a maximum period of six years upon entry and the validity of the travel document held. For those studying other courses, they will normally be granted permission of stay for 12 months upon entry or in accordance with the duration of their studies, whichever is the shorter.

Persons admitted for study may apply for extension of stay, if necessary, within 4 weeks before the limit of stay expires to continue their study in the HKSAR. Such applications will be considered only when the applicants continue to meet the eligibility criteria for entry for study. Extension of stay, if approved, will normally be on a yearly basis or in accordance with the duration of their studies, as appropriate. You may apply in person or authorise in writing a representative to submit the application. However, you must be physically in Hong Kong on the date of submission and on the date of collection of the visa label. Mainland students holding EEP may submit their applications to the Quality Migrants and Mainland Residents Section, Immigration Department, 6/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Students other than those from the Mainland may submit their applications to the Extension Section, Immigration Department, 5/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong or any Immigration Office (except Hong Kong Island Travel Documents Issuing Office).

Q11: If the validity of my travel document is not long enough upon my application for extension of stay, should I apply for a new one in advance in order to be granted a full period of stay in line with my study period?

It is your own decision whether to apply for a new travel document upon submission of application for extension of stay. Having said that, the limit of stay granted by the Immigration Department would be subject to the validity of the travel document.

Q12: What documents are required for me to apply for extension of stay for pursuing the same course of study?

The following documents are normally required when submitting an extension of stay application: (i) a duly completed application form ID 91; (ii) the applicant's travel document; (iii) the applicant's HK Identity Card; and (iv) a letter from the institution confirming that the student requires extension of stay to continue the same study programme and indicating the remaining duration of the study programme and the expected date of graduation.

Q13: What is the normal processing time for processing applications for extension of stay?

Individual applications will be finalised within 2 to 3 weeks upon receipt of all necessary documents.

Q14: What are the restrictions for extending my stay in Hong Kong to pursue further studies?

If you have successfully completed a full-time post-secondary programme in Hong Kong, you will normally be allowed to extend your stay to pursue another locally accredited full-time programme at a higher level of study.

For students from the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan, if you cannot complete a full-time programme at either degree or sub-degree level within the normal programme duration, consideration may be given to extend your stay for up to one year so as to complete the programme. If you wish to switch to another locally-accredited full-time programme before completing the earlier one, you will normally be allowed to extend your stay to pursue the new programme unless you would, with such extension, be able to accumulate five years or more of continuous residence in Hong Kong.

Change of Educational Institutions/Programmes and Termination of Study

Q15: Can I switch from one education institution to another?

In general, non-local students admitted to take up post-secondary programmes will be imposed with a condition of stay to take up a prescribed course in a prescribed education institution. Any change in condition of stay requires the prior approval from the Immigration Department. Application for change of educational institution may be approved provided that you continue to fulfil the eligibility criteria for entry for study. If the change of education institution is approved, you will be issued with an appropriate label specifying the name of the new educational institution subject to payment of the label fee.

Q16: Can I switch from one programme to another within the same educational institution?

You may apply for switching from one programme to another within the same education institution if you continue to fulfil the eligibility criteria for entry for study. If the change of study programme is approved, you will be informed in writing.

Q17: When should the education institution inform the Immigration Department in case a student terminates his/her studies?

If the education institution or student for any reason terminates studies before the completion of the programme as approved by the Director of Immigration, the education institution should notify the Director of Immigration of the date of termination of study in writing with reasons for termination or provide the Director of Immigration with a completed “Notification of Termination of Studies” (ID 977) within 7 days following the termination. In case the student fails to register with the education institution by the registration deadline, the institutions should also inform the Immigration Department within 7 days after the registration deadline.

Q18: How to submit the “Notification of Termination of Studies” (ID 977)?

For students other than those from the Mainland, the “Notification of Termination of Studies” (ID 977) should be sent by post to the Extension Section of the Immigration Department or by fax to 2586 1431. For Mainland students, the notification should be sent by post to the Quality Migrants and Mainland Residents Section of the Immigration Department or by fax to 2119 0522. Please click here to download the notification form.

Q19: Can I continue to stay in Hong Kong after termination of my study?

You must leave Hong Kong within 4 weeks from the date of termination of the study. It is an immigration offence for breach of condition of stay if you fail to leave Hong Kong within the prescribed time.

Employment during the Study Programme

Q20: What is the further relaxation of employment restriction for non-local students which comes into effect from 17 March 2014?

Under Regulation 2 of the Immigration Regulations, Cap 115A, permission given to a person to land in Hong Kong as a student shall be subject to the conditions of stay that, inter alia, he/she shall not take any employment, whether paid or unpaid. The restriction in respect of internship and part-time employment for non-local students has been further relaxed from 17 March 2014 onwards. Non-local students of full-time locally-accredited local or non-local programmes at undergraduate level or above whose study period is not less than one academic year may take up internship subject to the following conditions:

  1. The internships must be study/curriculum-related and be arranged or endorsed by the institutions they are studying in; and
  2. The duration of the internship is up to one academic year, or one-third of the normal duration of the relevant full-time academic programme, whichever is the shorter.

There is no restriction on the nature of work, level of salary, location, number of working hours and employers for the internship arrangements.

As regards non-local students enrolled in full-time locally-accredited sub-degree local programmes with a study period not less than 2 academic years, they may also apply to take up an internship if the following conditions are met:

  1. the internship must be mandatory, study/curriculum-related and be arranged / endorsed by the institutions they are studying in; and
  2. the duration of the internship is up to 6 months.

Moreover, non-local students (excluding exchange students) of full-time locally-accredited local programmes at undergraduate level or above whose study period is not less than one academic year may, during the currency of their limit of stay take up:

  1. part-time on-campus employment for not more than 20 hours per week throughout the year; and
  2. employment during the summer months without any limit in relation to working hours and location.
Q21: How should the accumulated period of internship taken up by eligible non-local students of locally-accredited sub-degree local programmes be calculated?

The 6 months' duration is calculated on a cumulative basis of 26 weeks and is counted by calendar week as a unit regardless of the actual days being engaged in the internship within a week. The cumulative duration of 26 weeks need not be continuous.

Q22: Are non-local students studying in full-time locally-accredited non-local programmes at the undergraduate level or above eligible to take up internship, part-time on-campus employment and summer jobs?

Non-local students studying in full-time locally-accredited non-local programmes at undergraduate level or above will only be eligible for taking up study/curriculum-related internships subject to meeting the conditions specified in A20 above.

Q23: Are exchange students eligible to take up internship, part-time on-campus employment and summer jobs?

Non-local exchange students of full-time and locally-accredited programmes at undergraduate level or above which necessitate study/curriculum-related internship and whose study period is not less than one academic year may take up study/curriculum-related internship but not part-time on-campus employment or summer jobs.

Q24: Should I make separate applications before taking up internship, part-time on-campus employment and summer employment?

Before taking up any internship, part-time on-campus employment or summer job, non-local students must obtain prior permission from the Director of Immigration.

For non-local students studying in full-time locally-accredited programmes at undergraduate level or above, eligible students will be notified of the relaxation individually by a “No Objection Letter” (NOL) upon approval of entry applications. These students are in general not required to make separate applications in respect of part-time on-campus employment and summer jobs, while the education institution should inform the Immigration Department in writing of the student’s need for taking up study/curriculum-related internship. The NOL for taking up part-time on-campus employment and summer jobs will remain valid throughout the currency of the student’s limit of stay at the same institution for studying the same approved programme. However, the NOL for taking up study/curriculum-related internship will normally be valid for one academic year and while the student still remains studying the same programme in the same institution in Hong Kong. In case of need, the student is required to apply for a new NOL for taking up internship in the subsequent academic years through the educational institution.

For non-local students studying in full-time locally-accredited sub-degree local programmes who wish to take up mandatory and study/curriculum-related internship, they have to submit their applications on the standard form SF/IM/2258 through their education institutions, after they have commenced their study programmes. Upon approval, NOLs with prescribed conditions including the duration of the internship, name of employer and post of the internship, will be issued to eligible students through the education institutions.

Q25: The NOL for non-local students studying locally-accredited local or non-local programmes at undergraduate level or above to take up internship is valid for one year only. Do I need to submit the application for NOL every year?

In case of need, the student is required to apply for a new NOL for taking up internship in subsequent academic years through the educational institution, subject to the fulfilment of the relevant requirements i.e. (i) the internship must be study/curriculum-related and be arranged or endorsed by the institutions they are studying in; and (ii) the duration of the internship is up to one academic year, or one-third of the normal duration of the relevant full-time academic programme, whichever is the shorter.

Q26: Can I take up internship after the completion of the academic programme?

No. The study/curriculum-related internship under the relaxation cannot take place before a non-local student is officially registered with the institutions and begun attending any scheduled classes of his/her registered programme in Hong Kong, or when the student concerned has already fulfilled all the course/credit requirements for graduation (e.g. a student who has just finished his/her final year of study).

Q27: What is the meaning of "on-campus employment"?

"On-campus employment" is taken to mean that the employment must take place within the campus of the institution (including only the campus of the institution in which the non-local student is enrolled, but excluding the campus of any subsidiary and associated bodies of the relevant institution proper or its self-financing arms) where the non-local student is studying or, if the work location is outside the campus of the institution, the employer is the institution itself.

Q28: Regarding part-time on-campus employment, can I take up part-time employment at any operators within the campus?

No. As specified in the NOL, eligible students should only take up employment at operators within the campus designated by your institution, i.e. designated operators. The designated operators may include the institution itself or an outside operator renting a venue within the campus for a short period of time. You should check with your institution for the list of designated operators which may be updated from time to time.

Q29: The duration of part-time on-campus employment is subject to the condition of "not more than 20 hours per week throughout the year". Can I roll over unused hours to another week?

Eligible students are not allowed to roll over unused hours from one week to another. A week here is taken to mean a period of seven days from Sunday to Saturday.

Q30: Can I take up more than one part-time on-campus job?

There is no restriction on the number of part-time on-campus jobs an eligible student may take up, provided that the cumulative duration of such jobs does not exceed 20 hours per week.

Q31: Are there any restrictions concerning summer employment?

Eligible students may only take up summer employment during the summer months which are taken to mean the period from 1 June to 31 August, both dates inclusive. The above period will be specified in the NOL and eligible students are not allowed to take up summer employment outside this period, regardless of the actual period of summer vacation for his/her academic programme. There is, however, no limit in relation to working hours and locations.

Q32: Is the NOL valid for my whole academic programme?

The validity of the NOL for taking up part-time on-campus employment and summer jobs will be in line with the limit of stay granted to the students concerned and will normally cover the whole academic programme. For study/curriculum-related internship for non-local students at undergraduate level of above, the NOL will normally be valid for one year. After the expiry of the existing ones, the students can apply, if required, through their respective institutions for a fresh NOL. As for mandatory and study/curriculum-related internship for non-local students at sub-degree level, the validity of the NOL will depend on individual cases.

Q33: Is the NOL still valid if I have switched to another study programme?

In the event that a non-local student successfully switches to another study programme whether in the same or another institution, the NOL in respect of the previous study programme will cease to be valid. His/Her eligibility for study/curriculum-related internship, part-time on-campus employment and summer jobs will be assessed afresh. A new NOL, if applicable, will be issued.

Q34: Can I get a replacement NOL if the original one has been lost, damaged or defaced?

Mainland students holding an EEP may approach the Quality Migrants and Mainland Residents Section of the Immigration Department for the issuance of a fresh NOL at no fee. Other non-local students may approach the Extension Section of the Immigration Department for the same formalities. Applicants should submit a duly completed form ID 91, together with his/her travel document containing the latest arrival stamp / landing slip / extension of stay label in the HKSAR.

Q35: Where can I seek assistance if the employer do not accept the NOL as proof of my employability?

You can request the prospective employer to contact the issuing section of the NOL for enquiries.

Q36: I have not been issued with an NOL but found out later that internship is required. What should I do?

You should apply for prior approval from the Immigration Department with the support from your institution before taking up internship.

Q37: What if I wish to take up study/curriculum-related internship for a longer period, say more than one year for a normally three-year study programme?

If non-local students wish to take up internship/employment outside the scope of the relaxation arrangements, they should seek prior approval from the Immigration Department. The applications will be assessed and determined on a case-by-case basis with due regard to individual merits.

Q39: What are the consequences if I do not adhere to the conditions set out in the NOL?

An eligible student with an NOL is not allowed to take up any employment outside the scope set out in the NOL without prior approval from the Immigration Department. A breach of any condition of stay will render him/her liable to prosecution and removal from Hong Kong under the Immigration Ordinance.

Employment after the Completion of Studies

Q40: Can I apply for employment in Hong Kong after I have completed my studies?

Persons who have obtained an undergraduate or higher qualification in a full-time and locally accredited local programme in Hong Kong may apply for staying/returning and working in Hong Kong under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates. Please click here for further information.

Other non-local students may apply for employment after they have completed their studies and left Hong Kong. Entry applications for employment under the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (for Mainland students) or the General Employment Policy (for other non-local students) should be made prior to the applicant's arrival in Hong Kong to take up the employment. Each application will be considered on basis of the criteria under the respective Scheme/Policy. For instance, the applicant should possess a special skill, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong; and has an offer of employment; and be offered with remuneration commensurate to the market rate.

Application for Entry of Dependants, and Related Extension of Stay

Q41: Are students allowed to bring in their dependants?

Persons admitted for studying in full-time undergraduate or post-graduate programmes in local degree-awarding institutions may apply to bring in their spouses and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18. Dependants of students are not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong.

Q43: How should the dependants of students apply for extension of stay?

Dependants of students will normally be granted an initial stay of 12 months upon entry which is subject to annual extension upon application. Such application will be considered only when the applicant continues to meet the eligibility criteria for entry for residence as dependants and the sponsor remains a bona fide Hong Kong resident living in the HKSAR. Applicants should submit duly completed application forms ID 91, ID 481A and ID 481B as well as the applicant’s and sponsor’s original travel documents. For students from the Mainland holding an EEP, applications should be submitted to the Quality Migrants and Mainland Residents Section of the Immigration Department. As for other non-local students, applications should be submitted to the Extension Section of the Immigration Department.

Loss of Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao (EEP)

Q44: What are the replacement arrangements if a Mainland student has lost his EEP whilst in Hong Kong?

The arrangements are as follows: (i) the Mainland student should approach the Quality Migrants and Mainland Residents Section of the Immigration Department with his Hong Kong identity card (if available), reported loss memo from the Police and a supporting letter from the education institution concerned confirming that the student is currently studying there; (ii) after conducting record check, the Immigration Department will confirm the student's immigration status by issuing a bearer letter and an appropriate label; and (iii) the student will then bring along the bearer letter and the appropriate label to China Travel Service (Hong Kong) Limited for the replacement of EEP and the relevant exit endorsement.

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