Would protesters sell their residency and live somewhere else?

July 31, 2019 12:48
A scheme that would allow Hong Kong's disgruntled youngsters to sell their residency and live elsewhere may be crazy and foolish, but it could make us think of how much we truly value our residency here. Photo: Reuters

As the turmoil triggered by the extradition bill continues, a friend suggested a bizarre idea to solve the deadlock, which is to allow disgruntled youngsters to sell their residency through a market mechanism.

As they are so unhappy about Hong Kong, they can take the money and start a new life elsewhere.

Let’s suppose the right of residency is worth HK$1 million.

Currently, Taiwan has one of the lowest thresholds for an investment visa. One can apply if they invest around HK$1.5 million in Taiwan by setting up, acquiring or buying a stake in a local company. They can obtain citizenship via this channel within one year at the earliest.

Also, Taiwan has launched an entrepreneur visa program, which requires an investment of only HK$500,000. But applicants must submit a business plan and it may take up to five years to obtain citizenship.

There are some more affordable options. Malaysia has a My Second Home program, which only requires applicants to put HK$600,000 in local banks.

In the Philippines, an investment visa only costs around HK$156,000 and residency can be granted within two months.

However, I would imagine these are not preferred destinations.

Australia is a popular immigration destination for skilled migrants, with over 128,500 places available per year under the country's General Skilled Migration (Skillselect) program. The six most sought after skilled migrants this year are electricians, auto mechanis, carpenters, secondary school teachers, nurses and metal fitters.

Japan’s startup visa requests an investment of only HK$350,000. The visa lasts for 10 years. If one decides Japan is the right place, they can apply for permanent residency when the visa nears expiry.

On the demand side, mainlanders looking to live in Hong Kong are potential buyers of residency.

Of course, my friend may just be joking, as such a scheme stands no chance of being approved by authorities, but the idea may serve as food for thought as we think about the core value of Hong Kong and the value of a residency here.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 30

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist