How to Get a Schengen Visa from Hong Kong and What Are the Alternatives
For citizens of Hong Kong heading to destinations in Europe, access to the entire Schengen Area is a usually an important benefit that allows seamless travel between the 22 member states. Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, passport-free travel between these countries means less bureaucracy, less paperwork, and less time spent in airports or at border control.
Today, citizens of Hong Kong enjoy unrestricted access to the Schengen Area thanks to their privileged visa-exception status. This means that citizens can visit member states on short stays of up to 90 days without being required to visit and embassy or consulate to obtain a visa. In essence, visa free travel is tied to your HK passport.
However, as of 2021, while visa-free travel within the Schengen Area is still possible, the introduction of ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) means that the process for claiming a Schengen Visa from Hong Kong will change slightly. Here, we look at exactly what this means for your travel plans and what alternatives are available to you should you decide that you require a longer stay.
ETIAS – The New System for Waiving the Schengen Visa from Hong Kong
Any Hong Kong citizen that requires a Schengen visa from 2021 onwards will need to access the online ETIAS system in order to waive the usual visa requirements. Once registered, ETIAS travel authorization will be valid for three consecutive years, with unlimited short stays of up to 90 days within the Schengen Area.
Travelers can enter the Schengen Area from any of the 22 listed countries and travel freely as they did previously, however, the electronic document generated by the ETIAS system is now linked digitally to your passport.
It is worth noting that ETIAS registration cannot be transferred, so individuals with dual citizenship should be careful to ensure they use the correct passport—both in registration and while traveling. Additionally, passports must have a remaining validity of at least 3 months to apply for the ETIAS Schengen visa from Hong Kong.
How Can I Get Schengen Visa from Hong Kong?
The ETIAS application system has been designed to be as quick and simple as possible, and once the form is completed, validation of visa-free travel is granted instantly. The following information is required to complete the ETIAS application form:
- Full name and surname
- Date of birth
- Country of birth
- Current address
- A valid telephone number
Additionally, certain information regarding employment status and previous criminal records is required. This information is gathered by answering a series of brief questions that cover:
- Educational background
- Employment status
- Criminal records held in Hong Kong
- Convictions related to human trafficking
- Prior travel to areas of conflict
- History of prior overstayed visas or deportation
Stays Longer than 90 Days – Does a HK Passport Need a Visa for Europe?
For stays of longer than 90 days, citizens holding a Hong Kong passport will need to apply for a full visa for the country or countries they will be visiting. There is no Schengen-wide visa application, and cases are judged on an individual basis. Working visas are a possibility in some European countries, but in others they are not. Additionally, these visas will generally not allow you travel freely within the Schengen Area. For more information on long-term visas, you will need to contact the respective embassy of the country you plan to travel to.
There are, however, alternatives available for individuals and families who are looking to spend more time in Europe and gain longer term access to the Schengen Area. Golden Visa schemes, such as Portugal’s Autorização de Residência para Actividade de Investimento program, provide long-term Schengen Area access. Citizens of Hong Kong can apply to this program by either investing in real estate or eligible venture capital funds.
The benefits of the Golden Visa program in Portugal are as follows:
- Portuguese residency permit
- Portuguese Citizenship after five years of legal residency
- Visa-free access to the Schengen Zone
- Access to high-quality education and healthcare systems
- 10-year tax relief program
The minimum investment to be eligible for the Golden Visa program in Portugal is €350,000 for venture capital funds and €500,000 for real estate projects. For Hong Kong citizens looking to relocate or set up a business in Europe, the Portuguese scheme offers easy entry to the Schengen Area while also providing other benefits to make investment a worthwhile vehicle.
For more information on how to apply for a Golden Visa in Portugal, contact Planeur today. We can give you the information you need to make an informed decision, while guiding you through the entire process, connecting you with the right professionals, and helping you to deal with the relevant paperwork.