NEED TO GO TO HONG KONG FOR A VISA?
What's New in Changsha has brought this section to you because of the many foreigners who have needed to do the 'Hong Kong Visa Run', that is, travel out of 'mainland China' to the nearest port city (undoubtedly, Hong Kong with it's different visa system even though it's part of China as a whole) and either renew or get a new visa type.
Warning: the information gathered in this section is based on reports by foreigners who have travelled there. In many cases, a visa being granted or refused in HK is often subject to the specific visa terms you may be on now, in China. These will vary invariably and the rules are often subject to inconvenient change. Visa renewal/approval is also determined by your nationality, which, in some cases, requires that you leave China for back home at your own expense. We welcome any visa run story, visa info or experiences you have.
The HK Visa Run process
Before setting off, get the following documents:
- An employment letter of invitation (stating you need to renew your visa in HK)
- Formal Government employment letter (stating that you will do all this in HK)
- Employer's business license (and other legal documents saying your employer is legit)
- Invitation letter (to work with that employer)
- Current work permit(s) such as your FEC
- Copies of your passport
- Application form (your employer should have this and you should do it before leaving)
- Employer's contract (dates, all signed, etc)
- A recent, valid health certificate
- The address and name of your HKhotel
- At least three passport sized photos
- Copies of your passport datapage/China visas
- A plan of how to get to the visa centre
- A pen to use at the visa centre (not a joke)
Basically, take everything with copies of everything. Don't forget to have the full Chinese and English address and phone number of your employer too. Also, get hold of some coins to operate the copy machines at the centre if needed.
At the latest report, a Z visa (employment) was 1400HKD ($180) for fast service.
1. Arrive to the visa centre as early possible. Expect queues and a very slow pace.
2. Go to the correct window and stay calm (many foreigners flip out if told of an application glitch and there's nothing better than that to get refused).
3. Once submitted, just hang on to the magic receipt (for visa collection). You're now ready to hit the beaches and bright lights of pricey HK!
4. Head back at the time/date specified (usually the same room as before) to pick up your new visa!
Here is a nifty guide to spending a few days in HK while you wait for your visa to come through.
Which Visa do I need?
You can check out the categories here. Your employer should be able to advise you on this.
How can I get more money?
UnionPay is reported to work at HSBC ATMs though you will want to take a hefty sum of cash to be on the same side and exchange some of it.
Where do I go in Hong Kong?
Head to the Chinese Consulate (obviously) which is close to subway station WanChai (exit A5). The Consulate is nestled snugly in a tower block, so don't expect to see huge flags or a mansion-style entrance! The consulate is open from Monday to Friday 9am-12pm and 3pm-5pm. Arrive in the morning!
NOTE: Check in at your hotel BEFORE going to the consulate as you need your passport to register at the hotel!
There is a good explanation of the Consulate location right here
Where is the Consulate?
Chinese consulate; 7th Floor, Lower Block, China Resources Building, 26 Harbor Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong SAR. Directions: from Wanchai station walk over the long foot bridge and just before the end turn right, get off the bridge and follow the directions to the above building.
How about tickets back?
Book your tickets home asap, that is, as soon as you arrive at your HK train station. You may need your passport so do it before going to the Consulate. This is essential during peak travel seasons in China (summer and Spring Festival).
How much is the visa?
Check your nationality visa rate right here
Travel in HK
You could grab an Octopus travel card which will save money as you traverse the city in the next few days. It’s HKD150 from most subway stations.
How to use 3G in HK
Some stores, like 7Eleven, sell affordable SIM cards which can sometimes come already topped up. Don't forget all those lovely coffee shops with their free wifi. Make sure to inform your employer on your progress and any ticket bookings needed. All too often, expats on the HK visa run forget to get their return tickets. Get that sorted asap.
There is good info given here
When to avoid HK
Obviously, Christmas and the New Year, but also the Chinese New Year (aka Spring Festival) is a terrible time to go. The Consulate may close for as much as a week and trains back home become booked solid for weeks on end! Equally, summer is a busy time with student flows. Avoid national holidays on both the HK and China side too.
High Speed fromChangsha
The most popular route from Changsha is by High Speed train to Guangzhou and change to the HK line. This is fairly straight forward.
There are a multitude of things to do in Hong Kong. So, relax and take it all in and enjoy!