Partners who are not legally married may apply for dependent visas
24 Sep 18
IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? The Hong Kong government announced a long-awaited policy decision last week—partners (of the same sex or the opposite sex) who are not legally married may apply for dependent visas.
What does the change mean? Same-sex and opposite-sex partners may apply for dependent visas provided that the partner and the visa sponsor have entered into a same-sex civil partnership, same-sex civil union, “same-sex marriage,” opposite-sex civil partnership or opposite-sex civil union outside Hong Kong, in accordance with local law and being legally and officially recognized by the local authorities.
Such applications will be assessed based on prevailing eligibility criteria for typical dependent visas, including reasonable proof of a genuine relationship, no known record to the detriment of the applicant, and proof that the sponsor can support the partner at a living standard well above subsistence level and provide the partner with suitable accommodation in Hong Kong.
- Implementation time frame: Ongoing starting Sept. 19.
- Visas/permits affected: Dependent visas.
- Who is affected: Partners in a same-sex civil partnership, a same-sex civil union, a “same-sex marriage,” an opposite-sex civil partnership or an opposite-sex civil union outside Hong Kong, in accordance with local law and being legally and officially recognized by the local authorities.
- Business impact: The new policy could attract and retain talent in Hong Kong, where employees and their partners are not legally married, yet meet the newly introduced criteria for dependent visas.
Background: In a landmark ruling in July, the Court of Final Appeal ruled unanimously in favor of a same-sex partner requesting a dependent visa. Since then, Hong Kong introduced an interim solution while a long-term policy update was developed. The interim solution provided eligible same-sex partners with a maximum 12-month resident visa that permitted them to work, study, or start a business in Hong Kong.
The new policy does not change the definition of a “spouse” under Hong Kong law. “The revision has nothing to do with legal recognition of same-sex civil partnership, same-sex civil union, ‘same-sex marriage’, opposite-sex civil partnership or opposite-sex civil union in Hong Kong,” a government spokesperson said.
Analysis & Comments: Partners (of the same sex or of the opposite sex) who are not legally married but who meet the eligibility criteria mentioned above may apply for dependent visas. The policy change is a welcome development for same-sex partners interested in relocating in Hong Kong and makes Hong Kong one of only two locales in Asia, along with Taiwan, to have taken serious steps toward recognizing same-sex partnerships for immigration purposes.
Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.