Eligibility for the Right of Abode in the HKSAR

Under the Immigration Ordinance, six categories of people are eligible to enjoy the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Besides, a person fulfills the transitional arrangement under the same Ordinance is also eligible to enjoy the right of abode. This page provides information about who belongs to these categories, the transitional arrangements and where to go for further information.

Categories of Eligibility

Under the Immigration Ordinance, if a person belongs to one of the following categories, he/she is a permanent resident of the HKSAR and enjoys the right of abode.

Chinese Citizens

(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 seven 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).

  • The person’s right of abode by virtue of being a permanent resident of the HKSAR under category (c) can only be exercised upon the establishment of his/her status as a permanent resident by holding :
    • a valid travel document issued to him/her and a valid Certificate of Entitlement also issued to him/her and affixed to the travel document;
    • a valid HKSAR passport issued to him/her; or
    • a valid permanent identity card issued to him/her.

Non-Chinese Citizens

(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 seven years and has taken Hong Kong as his/her place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.

  • The continuous period of seven years ordinary residence must be immediately before the date when the person applies to the Director of Immigration for the status of a permanent resident of the HKSAR under this category.
  • The person is required to make a declaration in the form the Director of Immigration stipulates that he/she has taken Hong Kong as his/her place of permanent residence. If the person is under 21 years of age, the declaration must be made by a parent or legal guardian. For this purpose, the person will have to furnish information to satisfy the Director of Immigration that he/she has taken Hong Kong as a place of permanent residence. The information may include whether he/she has habitual residence in Hong Kong, whether the principal members of the person’s family (spouse and minor children) are in Hong Kong, whether the person has a reasonable means of income to support himself/herself and his/her family and whether he/she has paid taxes in accordance with the law.
  • Please note that a person claiming to have the status of a permanent resident of the HKSAR under this category does not have that status until he/she has applied to the Director of Immigration and the application has been approved.

(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/her birth or at any later time before he/she attains 21 years of age, one parent has the right of abode in Hong Kong.

  • Please note that on attaining 21 years of age, the person ceases to be a permanent resident of the HKSAR under this category. He/She may, however, apply to the Director of Immigration for the status of a permanent resident of the HKSAR under category (d).

(f)

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

  • The person is required to furnish information that the Director of Immigration may reasonably require to determine whether he/she had the right of abode only in Hong Kong immediately before the establishment of the HKSAR.
  • The person is required to make a declaration that he/she had the right of abode only in Hong Kong immediately before the establishment of the HKSAR.
  • If the person is under the age of 21 years, the declaration must be made by one parent or a legal guardian.
  • 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 this category at the time of the birth of the person is taken to have the status of a permanent resident of the HKSAR if the person has, but for this provision, no right of abode in any place including Hong Kong.
  • Please note that on attaining 21 years of age, the person ceases to be a permanent resident of the HKSAR under this category. He/She may, however, apply to the Director of Immigration for the status of a permanent resident of the HKSAR under category (d).

The meanings of the terms Chinese citizen’, settled and ordinary residence are available through the following link.

A flowchart illustrating eligibility for the right of abode in the HKSAR can be accessed through the following link:

Transitional Arrangements

Chinese Citizens

A Chinese citizen who was a Hong Kong permanent resident immediately before 1 July 1997 under the Immigration Ordinance as then in force will, as from 1 July 1997, be a permanent resident of the HKSAR as long as he or she remains a Chinese citizen.

Non-Chinese Citizens

A person who is not of Chinese nationality and who was a permanent resident of Hong Kong before 1 July 1997 is a permanent resident of the HKSAR under category (d) above and exempt from the requirements under the second and third points in category (d) if:

  • The person was settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997; and
  • After he/she ceased to be settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997, the person returned 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, the person returned 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.

A flowchart explaining the transitional arrangements can be accessed through the following link.

Related Issues

The following links will provide further information about eligibility for the right of abode in certain circumstances, including what a person will need to do to prove his/her eligibility, and what happens if he/she loses the right of abode in the HKSAR.

Chinese Citizens:

Non-Chinese Citizens:

Loss of Right of Abode: