Hong Kong: Same-Sex Partners or Spouses Could Become Eligible for Dependent Status

The Court of Appeal has ruled that same-sex partners and spouses should be eligible to obtain dependent visas, which confer employment rights in Hong Kong without restrictions. Same-sex partners and spouses currently remain ineligible for dependent status, however this could change depending on how the case progresses.

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Sep 25, 2017
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The situation
Same-sex partners and spouses may be eligible for dependent status if a court decision remains valid following a potential appeal.

A closer look
The Court of Appeal unanimously found that a foreign national who filed a dependent visa application in Hong Kong in 2011 based on her same-sex partner should not have been denied a visa. The decision states that the Hong Kong Immigration Department failed to demonstrate that the visa scheme, which does not allow same-sex partners and spouses to qualify for dependent status, had been put in place rationally.

Background
Current Hong Kong immigration policy does not allow same-sex partners and spouses to obtain dependent visas. They can only live in Hong Kong as visitors and are not entitled to employment rights. However, heterosexual spouses can obtain dependent visas and are entitled to employment rights in Hong Kong without restrictions.

What this means for foreign nationals
Same-sex partners and spouses currently remain ineligible for dependent status, however this could change depending on how the case progresses.

Looking ahead
The Hong Kong Immigration Department and the foreign national were ordered to submit a proposed draft order by consent within 28 days, at which time it will be clearer how the case will proceed. Fragomen will closely monitor the situation and provide updates on the case. This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to HKInitiations@fragomen.com.

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