Meanings of Right of Abode and Other Terms

This page will explain the meanings of the terms related to the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) – ‘right of abode’, ‘right to land’, ‘Chinese citizen’, ‘settled’ and ‘ordinary residence’.

Right of Abode

The right of abode in the HKSAR will allow a person the right:

  • To land in the HKSAR;
  • To be free from any condition of stay (including a limit of stay) in the HKSAR;
  • Not to be deported from the HKSAR; and
  • Not to be removed from the HKSAR.

Right to Land

If a person loses his/her right of abode in the HKSAR he/she will automatically acquire the right to land in the HKSAR in accordance with the law, which will allow he/she enjoys the right:

  • To land in the HKSAR;
  • To be free from any condition of stay (including a limit of stay) in the HKSAR; and
  • Not to be removed from the HKSAR.

He/She will be able to enter the HKSAR freely to live, study and work without any restriction.

Chinese Citizen

A Chinese citizen is a person of Chinese nationality under the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China as implemented in the HKSAR pursuant to Article 18 of and Annex III to the Basic Law and interpreted in accordance with the Explanations of Some Questions by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Concerning the Implementation of the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR, which was adopted at the 19th Session meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress at the 8th National People’s Congress on 15 May 1996.

Under the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China (CNL), Hong Kong residents who are of Chinese descent and born in Chinese territories (including Hong Kong) are regarded as Chinese citizens. Their citizenship is not affected by whether they hold, or have held, a Hong Kong British Dependent Territories citizen passport, British National (Overseas) passport, or any other foreign passport unless they have made a declaration of change of nationality to the HKSAR Immigration Department.

Settled

A person is settled in Hong Kong if:

  • He/She is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong; and
  • He/She is not subject to any limit of stay in Hong Kong.

Ordinary Residence

A person has ordinary residence in Hong Kong if he/she remains in Hong Kong legally, voluntarily and for a settled purpose (such as for education, employment or residence), whether of short or long duration. That status does not change if he/she is temporarily absent from Hong Kong.

Whether or not a person has ceased to be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong is determined by his/her circumstances and those of his/her absence. The circumstances may include:

  • The reason, duration and frequency of any absence from Hong Kong;
  • Whether he/she has habitual residence in Hong Kong;
  • Whether he/she is employed by a Hong Kong based company; and
  • The whereabouts of the principal members of his/her family (spouse and minor children).

A person will, however, not be treated as ordinarily resident in Hong Kong

  • During any period in which he/she remains in Hong Kong:
    • With or without the authority of the Director of Immigration, after landing unlawfully; or
    • In contravention of any condition of stay; or
    • As a refugee, or while in detention pending determination of refugee status or removal; or
    • While employed as a contract worker from outside Hong Kong under a Government importation of labour scheme; or
    • While employed as a domestic helper from outside Hong Kong; or
    • As a member of a consular post within the meaning of the Consular Relations Ordinance; or
    • As a member of the Hong Kong Garrison; or
    • As the holder of a prescribed Central People’s Government travel document; or
  • During any period of imprisonment or detention pursuant to the sentence or order of any court.