Hong Kong – landmark ruling on dependant visa status for same-sex couples04 July 2018
In a landmark decision on 4 July 2018, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled on a case, allowing a British same-sex spouse the right to obtain dependant status. Her application for a dependant visa had previously been refused by the Director of Immigration.
Under current Hong Kong immigration policy, in contrast to heterosexual spouses, same-sex spouses cannot obtain dependant visas and so are not entitled to employment rights.
As part of the rationale for the decision, the Court also highlighted that the policy runs counter to the aim of encouraging talent to join the Hong Kong workforce.
The decision may now lead to the granting of dependant visa status to same-sex married spouses. A favourable interim arrangement is currently in place and an announcement from the Immigration Department regarding the rules governing dependent visa applications is expected shortly.
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 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 becomes eligible to apply for a dependant visa/entry permit for entry into Hong Kong.”
For further information see the ‘Guidebook for Entry for Residence as Dependants in Hong Kong‘ section VI-16 and addendum.