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Uni graduate? Here’s a free pass to billionaire city

WANT A WELL-PAID JOB? With a free work visa? In a low-crime city? With the world’s highest health score? In a community with more super-rich people than anywhere else on earth? And with a huge pot of money waiting to invest in whatever business you’re doing?

The answer has got to be YES.

And so it is: professionals and graduates from around the world are already enquiring about moving to Hong Kong, recruitment specialists and careers advisors say. The deal is irresistible for many people at a time when inflation and other economic woes are hitting urban centers worldwide.

The invitation is so wide.

Here’s who’s eligible to apply for Hong Kong’s new Top Talent Pass Scheme:

  • Experienced working people who already hold a degree from any of the world’s top 165 universities.
  • Graduates with similar degrees, but no work experience yet.
  • Big-earning professionals, meaning people who are paid more than HK$2.5 million a year, which is US$320,000 a year.
  • Business people who want to start an operation in Hong Kong.

It’s easy to see why people are tempted, especially given the prospects in China as it becomes the world’s biggest economy.

Numerous policies have been unveiled to attract skilled people to Hong Kong. Image: HKSAR Gov.


Compare that with prospects in other countries. Many are suffering from economic woes, instability, or rising crime rates.  And there are other difficulties, too. In the US, for example, the H-1b visa (which allows you to work) is issued only to people who enter and win a lottery, making success a matter of luck.

In contrast, Hong Kong is providing a clear path to a well-paid job, and has set up a Talents Service Unit, led by the Chief Secretary for Administration. This will provide one-stop support, so that people who want to move here can easily get help and advice.

You don’t need to be from MIT (above) or Harvard or Cambridge, but from one of 165 universities. Image: Ana GG/ Unsplash.

The unit will also formulate strategies to recruit talented people from around the world, including from Mainland China. One plan is to not wait for applications, but to surf Linked-In and offer places to people who fit the bill.


As well as the recruitment plan for individuals, new Hong Kong leader John Lee Ka-chiu wants to attract businesses and organizations from around the world, including Mainland China. To that end, he is setting up OASES, which stands for Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises. This will be a one-stop-shop, giving business people help to set up operations in the city. It will be led by the city’s Financial Secretary, showing the importance placed on it.

Hong Kong aims to attract more strategic enterprises. Image: Chengting Xie/ Unsplash.

It’s an attractive deal for business people – as well as getting help setting up their companies, there’s cash investment available too. Hong Kong is setting aside HK$30 billion from the Future Fund to establish the Co-Investment Fund.


Another change: Until now, Hong Kong has been attracting high-fliers under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, a points-based system which tends to bring in about 2,000 individuals a year. But now it will suspend the annual quota limitation for two years, and relax the immigration arrangements for non-local graduates by extending the limit of stay in Hong Kong from one year to two years.

Also, the normal system which facilities the intake of needed workers to Hong Kong will be streamlined. The General Employment Scheme tends to focus on vacancies under the 13 profession listed in the Talent List, such as actuaries, fintech professionals and cybersecurity specialists. From now on, employers will not be required to provide proof that they cannot find requisite staff locally.

All these initiatives aim to eliminate barriers for global talents to come to Hong Kong and retain non-local graduates to stay and work here. 


There’s one more temptation laid on the table. Hong Kong famously has had the crown of being the location of the world’s most valuable real estate – a good or bad title, depending on whether you are an owner or not. (The majority of Hong Kong people live in self-owned property.) Well, why not join the locals and become an owner?

Get back stamp duty surcharge once you have become a permanent resident. Image: Leo Ko/ Unsplash.

A new rule lets foreigners play the property game at the same level as locals. What that means is that the hefty special property purchase tax that foreigners or people from the Chinese Mainland have to pay, will, if you decide to become a permanent resident, be returned to you. This can add up huge sums, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong dollars, so is a worthwhile bonus.


Will this huge range of sweeteners pull in people from the international community? Success is not guaranteed. On the downside, the international media is addicted to painting Hong Kong as a dystopia, which may put some people off. Yet the international working community, and especially business and finance groups, tend to be very positive on the city and the country.

For many graduates and professionals, it may simply be a question of doing the math. Comparing Hong Kong with similar talent schemes elsewhere, it’s hard to find one which offers so many benefits.

Expect to see lots of new faces in Hong Kong.

Image at the top by javier trueba on Unsplash

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