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HONG KONG – Court of Appeal Upholds Judgement Permitting Dependent Visas for Same-Sex Spouses

On 4 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.

Background

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.

Action Items

  • Employment visa holders, their same-sex spouses and their employers who may be affected by this judgement are advised to contact an immigration specialist for the latest information on the Immigration Department’s response to this judgement.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Hong Kong Visa Centre.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.