The Position of Residents (including Former Residents) of Chinese Nationality who were Permanent Residents Immediately Before 1 July 1997 and Hold Foreign Passports

Whether the person concerned is regarded as a Chinese citizen in Hong Kong does not depend on what travel document he/she has. It depends on whether he/she has made a declaration of change of nationality to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Immigration Department.

Remaining in the HKSAR as a Chinese Citizen

As long as a person remains a Chinese citizen (i.e., not having declared change of nationality), he/she will retain the status as a permanent resident and enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR irrespective of whether he/she was physically present in Hong Kong on 1 July 1997 or whether he/she had returned to settle within the time permitted under the “Transitional Arrangements”

More on transitional arrangements

The person concerned will not lose his/her status as a permanent resident even if he/she is absent from Hong Kong for long periods.

He/She can still use his/her foreign passport as a travel document but will not enjoy consular protection in the HKSAR.

Remaining in the HKSAR as a Foreign Citizen

If a person chooses to remain in the HKSAR as a foreign national by making a declaration of change of nationality to the HKSAR Immigration Department and the declaration has been approved -

The person can enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR if:

  • He/She was a permanent resident of Hong Kong before 1 July 1997; and
    • he/she was settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997; or
    • after he/she ceased to be settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997, he/she returns to settle in Hong Kong within the period of 18 months commencing on 1 July 1997; or
    • after he/she ceased to be settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997, he/she returns to settle in Hong Kong after the period of 18 months commencing on 1 July 1997, but only if he/she has been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of less than 36 months; or
  • He/She is able to satisfy the requirements of categories (d) or (e) for non-Chinese citizens.

More on non-Chinese citizens

A person can enjoy consular protection in the HKSAR from the country of his/her declared nationality.

If the person concerned is not able to satisfy the requirements under any of the above classes, he/she will lose his/her status as a permanent resident but will automatically acquire the right to land. He/She will still be able to enter the HKSAR freely to live, study and work, without any restriction. He/She will also be able to re-acquire the right of abode in the HKSAR if he/she subsequently satisfies the requirements of categories (d) or (e) for non-Chinese citizens.

Meaning of the right to land

More on non-Chinese citizens

Remaining Overseas beyond 31 December 1998

A person can enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR when he/she returns if:

  • he/she was a Hong Kong permanent resident immediately before 1 July 1997 and remains a Chinese citizen (i.e., not having declared change of nationality). He/She will continue to enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR notwithstanding that he/she holds a foreign passport.

He/She may, however, choose to be regarded as a foreign national when he/she returns to the HKSAR by making a declaration of change of nationality. When the declaration has been approved, he/she will enjoy consular protection in the HKSAR. However, he/she may lose the status as a permanent resident if he/she has been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of more than 36 months counting back from the date he/she returned to settle in Hong Kong. In that event, he/she will automatically acquire the right to land. He/She will still be able to enter the HKSAR freely to live, study and work, without any restriction. He/She will also be able to re-acquire the right of abode in the HKSAR if he/she subsequently satisfies the requirements of categories (d) or (e) for non-Chinese citizens.

More on non-Chinese citizens

A Checklist for Returning Emigrants