On 18 September 2018, the Hong Kong government announced a revision to the immigration policy for entry of non-local dependants (the "Policy") to recognise overseas same-sex partnerships when considering eligibility for dependant visas/ entry permits. The revision took effect from 19 September 2018.

A person who has entered into a

  • same-sex civil partnership,
  • same-sex civil union,
  • "same-sex marriage",
  • opposite-sex civil partnership, or
  • opposite-sex civil union

outside of Hong Kong with an eligible sponsor in accordance with the local law in force of the place of celebration and with such status being legally and officially recognised by the local authorities of the place of celebration is now eligible to apply for a dependant visa/ entry permit to enter into Hong Kong.

The other original eligibility criteria of the Policy will also continue to apply unchanged. These original eligibility criteria are:

(i) there is reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the applicant and the sponsor;

(ii) there is no known record to the detriment of the applicant; and

(iii) the sponsor is able to support the dependant's living at a standard well above the subsistence level and provide him/her with suitable accommodation in Hong Kong.

The change in policy follows the much publicised Court of Final Appeal decision in QT v. Director of Immigration [2018] HKCFA 28 which found against the Immigration Department's former policy of restricting dependant visas to a spouse of a heterosexual couple. The change in policy is a major shift in the Immigration Department's policy and is good news for employers which helps in efforts to attract and retain talent to come to and remain in Hong Kong.

The Government Press Release is available at: https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201809/18/P2018091800579.htm

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