The General Employment Policy (GEP)

The General Employment Policy (GEP)  is a program by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government aimed at attracting skilled professionals from overseas and mainland China to work in Hong Kong in order to meet local manpower needs and enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the global market. Here are the key features and requirements of the GEP:
Eligibility Criteria:
– **Job Offer:** Applicants must have a genuine job offer for a position that cannot be readily taken up by the local workforce. The job should be relevant to the applicant’s academic qualifications or work experience.
– **Salary:** The remuneration package, including income, accommodations, medical and other benefits, should be commensurate with the prevailing market level for professionals in Hong Kong.
– **Qualifications:** The applicant should possess special skills, knowledge, or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong. Generally, a good education background, usually a first degree in the relevant field, is expected. However, in special circumstances, substantial work experience and achievements may suffice.
 Application Process:
1. **Employer’s Role:** Typically, the employing company in Hong Kong sponsors the visa application and submits the necessary documents to the Immigration Department.
2. **Documentation:** This includes proof of the applicant’s qualifications, the employment contract, and details about the company offering the job.
3. **Review Period:** The processing time can vary, but applications are generally reviewed within four weeks from the date of submission if all required documents are provided.
 Visa Validity and Renewal:
 Initially, the visa may be granted for a one-year period or the duration of the contract, if shorter.
Visas can be renewed if the employment continues to meet the eligibility criteria. The length of visa validity may be extended with each renewal, subject to immigration rules.
 Accompanying Family Members:
– Holders of a GEP visa can sponsor their spouse and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18 to join them in Hong Kong under a Dependent Visa, which usually aligns with the duration of the GEP visa.
It’s important for potential applicants to keep updated on any changes to the GEP’s requirements or procedures, as immigration policies can be adjusted in response to the local employment market’s needs and broader economic considerations. For the most current information, contacting the Immigration Department directly or consulting with a professional immigration advisor is recommended.
 Additional Information that could be valuable for Potential Applicants and Employers
 Application Tips:
– **Supporting Documents:**
Precision and clarity in the submission of supporting documents can significantly impact the application’s success. This includes detailed job descriptions, evidence of the company’s efforts to recruit locally, and justifications for hiring a foreign professional.
– **Application Form:**
Completeness and accuracy in filling out the application form are crucial. Any discrepancies or missing information can lead to delays or rejection.
Labor Market Test:
– **Local Recruitment Efforts:** The employer may need to demonstrate that efforts have been made to recruit local talent before offering the position to a non-local professional. This includes advertisements in local media and listings on job boards. However, this requirement can vary depending on the job’s specialization and the local availability of such skill
Quota System:
– The GEP does not operate under a quota system, which means there is no annual limit on the number of visas issued under this policy. This is beneficial for sectors experiencing skill shortages, as it allows for the continuous intake of necessary talent.
Integration and Cultural Adaptation:
– **Language and Culture:** While English is widely used in the business environment, learning Cantonese or Mandarin can be advantageous for personal and professional integration into Hong Kong society.
– **Networking:** Engaging with local and expatriate communities can provide social and professional support, aiding in the smoother transition and adaptation to life in Hong Kong.
Long-Term Prospects:
– **Permanent Residency:** GEP visa holders may apply for permanent residency after seven years of continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong, offering long-term benefits and security.
– **Contribution to MPF:** Employees under the GEP, like all employees in Hong Kong, are required to contribute to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme, which is a compulsory saving scheme for retirement.
Dependent’s Rights:
– **Employment for Dependents:** Spouses and dependent children of GEP visa holders have the right to live in Hong Kong. Spouses can also take up employment without needing to obtain a separate work visa.
Changing Employers:
– **Flexibility:** GEP visa holders are allowed to change employers within Hong Kong, but they must notify the Immigration Department and obtain approval before the change can take effect. The new employment must also meet the GEP requirements.
Staying informed about the latest immigration laws and policies is essential, as these can change based on economic needs and political decisions. The Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website and consultations with immigration professionals offer the most current guidance and support for navigating the GEP application process successfully.