Cody Szeto is director of the IT&T, engineering, supply chain and procurement divisions at Kelly Services Hong Kong.
How easy is it to get a Hong Kong visa sponsorship for a tech job?
I work as a front-end web developer and I am planning on moving to Hong Kong soon to join my partner, who has been seconded by his bank. I am looking about the possibility of getting employment there in a programming capacity but I do not currently have a working visa.
How feasible is it to get a company to sponsor me? I also have experience in app development and have been working for 15 years.
The world of work is changing rapidly with a rising expectation of workers’ skill sets to keep up with changes in technology. Never before have Hong Kong employers been keener to import foreign tech talents.
However, it may be worthwhile to note that according to the employment law in Hong Kong, employers in Hong Kong can only hire from overseas and offer foreign talents work visas if they prove difficulty hiring such talents locally in Hong Kong. This policy helps Hong Kong to supplement its shortages of desired skill sets or hands-on experience in certain areas.
At present, Hong Kong is in desperate need of talent in the areas of blockchain development, data analytics, robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning. You say you have been a front-end developer and have experience in app development. Hong Kong is a mature market and is already quite developed in these two areas. However, if you have an impressive work portfolio and are at the forefront of technology in areas such as US/UI, VR/AR, or e-commerce, then it is more likely that you will fulfil the criteria to be considered as import labour.
After identifying your niche and rare skills, you will then need to figure out where your potential employers are. In general, the companies who are receptive to hiring foreigners are global consultancies, international banks and financial services companies, foreign conglomerates and overseas companies with start-up operations in Hong Kong.
These companies have a higher tendency to import foreigners, and they have the type of company culture deemed to be friendlier to them. They also, crucially, use English as their main language.
On the other hand, many companies across industries have been undergoing some degree of digital transformation to pave the way for future growth. Regardless of their size and how established they might be, companies are thinking of innovative business initiatives to break through and grow.
Professionals who can prove themselves to upskill and drive digital transformation will be much sought after.
Do you have experience helping a company undergo digital transformation? If you do, this will add to your portfolio and make you a more desirable candidate.
All in all, positioning yourself with skills and experience that the market lacks is your main goal when applying work visa in Hong Kong. This, above anything else, is likely to make the difference. I wish you all the best with your job search.