Hong Kong Law & Crime

Hong Kong’s Immigration Dept. issues visas for same-sex spouses ahead of top court challenge

Hong Kong’s Immigration Department has begun issuing visas that would grant same-sex spouses the same dependent rights as heterosexual couples, after British woman QT won the case at the city’s appeal court last year.

QT was denied a spousal visa when her same-sex partner moved to Hong Kong for work, and was only granted a tourist visa. She lodged a judicial review against the Immigration Department and lost at the Court of First Instance, but last September the Court of Appeal ruled in her favour.

Immigration Tower wanchai

Immigration Tower. File photo: inmediahk.net.

The government has since taken the case to Hong Kong’s top court, which will hear the case on June 4, 2018.

Vidler & Co. Solicitors, the firm which represented QT, said in a statement on Facebook Monday that in compliance with the Court of Appeal’s judgment, “the Immigration Department is finally issuing visas to same-sex dependant spouses of Hong Kong residents.”

The rights enjoyed by the spouses of those living in Hong Kong include a resident status, the right to take up employment, and education without the need for a separate visa.

Although these visas give same-sex couples the same rights as those enjoyed by heterosexual spouses on dependent visas, the law firm said that the Immigration Department is issuing them as “out of policy” visas.

According to Vidler & Co, these visas will be converted into dependent visas in the event that QT wins the case. If she does not, they will be converted into Prolonged Visitor (tourist) Visas, which were granted to same-sex spouses prior to the appeal judgment.

The Immigration Department said in response to HKFP’s enquiries: “As QT v Director of Immigration is pending appeal to the Court of Final Appeal, we will not comment on the matters raised in your enquiry.”

Hong Kong's Immigration Dept. issues visas for same-sex spouses ahead of top court challenge