Gay couples win Hong Kong visa concession

10 July 2011 - 11:01 By Sapa-dpa
Gay marriage. File picture
Gay marriage. File picture
Image: Bram Lammers

Gay couples are being given family visa concessions by Hong Kong immigration authorities even though Hong Kong does not recognise same-sex unions and bans gay marriages, a report says.

Officials are giving the dependent in a gay relationship an extended visitor's visa to remain in Hong Kong while their working partner is employed in the territory, the Sunday Morning Post said.

The visa rule was initially introduced to allow expatriate professionals bring their families when they were transferred by their employer to Hong Kong or were recruited by a Hong Kong company. But this is the first time the concession has been knowingly extended to gay couples.

"If you can present strong evidence that you have a genuine relationship that is long term and will continue then it's very likely to be approved," said Grace Shie, an immigration lawyer for law firm Baker & McKenzie.

Vivian Wong, a visa consultant at Lloyden Consultancy, said the request to extend a prolonged visitor's visa "never gets a refusal" as long as the relationship is ongoing.

The visa does not allow the holder to do any volunteer or paid work.

"Our ability to hire the best and brightest talent may be limited by the availability of different visa categories," Hayden Majajas, head of diversity at UBS Asia, said.