On 4th July 2018, Hong Kong’s highest court, the Court of Final Appeal, upheld a previous decision by a lower court to allow same-sex spouses to hold dependent visas, denying an appeal by the Director of Immigration.
What is the impact?
This judgement should allow same-sex spouses to obtain dependent visas, which allow the holder to work in Hong Kong.
The Immigration Department of Hong Kong cannot now appeal to a higher court but it has yet to respond to the judgement with details of how it will amend the immigration regulations for dependent visas.
Under current immigration regulations, a same-sex spouse cannot obtain a dependent visa and can only stay in Hong Kong for short periods as a tourist. This means that, unlike a heterosexual spouse, they cannot work in Hong Kong without obtaining an employment visa in their own right.
The case in question was first brought by the British same-sex spouse of a dual British and South African national holding a Hong Kong employment visa, whose application for a dependent visa was rejected by the Immigration Department in 2014.
Same-sex marriages are not recognised as valid in Hong Kong law.
Employment visa holders, their same-sex spouses and their employers who may be affected by this judgement are advised to contact their Newland Chase immigration specialist for the latest information on the Immigration Department’s response to this judgement.
For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to Hong Kong, please email us at email@example.com.