Stamp Duty Refund - New Impetus To Eligible Incoming Talents
The Top Talent Pass Scheme (“TTPS”) is one of the many new measures announced by the HKSAR Government in the 2022 Policy Address which seeks to attract top talents with wealth of work experience and good academic qualifications from all over the world to explore opportunities in Hong Kong.
The scheme allows a stay of maximum 24 months. During this period, the holder will be permitted to work in Hong Kong or establish a business in Hong Kong. A three-year extension is welcome to the applicants who continue to meet the conditions of the scheme.
In addition, TTPS provides a refund mechanism for eligible talents who have entered Hong Kong under designated talent admission schemes and have acquired residential property in Hong Kong as non Hong Kong Permanent Residents and being charged for the Buyer's Stamp Duty (15%) and a flat rate of 15% of the Ad Valorem Stamp Duty. The refund mechanism can attract incoming talents to stay in Hong Kong for long-term development by substantially reducing their cost of property purchase as well as enriching, diversifying and expanding the talent pool of Hong Kong.
TPPS opens a new, flexible door to welcome international talent who may be interested in working in Hong Kong or establishing a business in Hong Kong, without the need to secure an employment or to provide a business plan upon application. The scheme is open for people from different nations and offers a new perspective for foreigners to live and work in Hong Kong.
Who is eligible to apply?
Applicants may apply under one of the categories below and are not required to have secured an offer of employment in Hong Kong upon application:
|Category A||persons with an annual income of HK$2.5 million or above in the year prior to application|
|Category B||persons who have obtained a bachelor degree from the world's top 100 universities prescribed in the designated aggregate list and have accumulated at least three years of work experience in the five years prior to application|
|Category C||persons who have obtained a bachelor degree from the world's top 100 universities within five years prior to application, but have less than three years of work experience. An annual quota of 10,000 is set for this category|
Applicants can also apply for dependent visas for their family members, which will allow them to stay, study and work in Hong Kong. The scheme is intended for nationals from all countries except Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Nepal, and Vietnam.
Applications received by the Immigration Department
It is noteworthy that the Government has received over seven thousand applications and accepted over five thousand applicants within a month of the introduction of the scheme, the number of applications and approvals under the TTPS are as follows:
|Category A||Category B||Category C||Total|
|No. of applications received||1172||3485||2760||7417|
|No. of approved applications||470||2983||2346||5799|
|No. of rejected applications||7||134||145||286|
In gist, around 78% of the applications are approved with only around 3.8% applications being rejected. This shows that many talents see the potential in coming to Hong Kong and the eager reception of the government towards these candidates.
What are the benefits under TTPS?
Successful applicants will normally be granted an initial stay of 24 months and the applicant can apply for an extension of stay thereafter who will normally be permitted to remain on time limitation only without other conditions of stay on a 3-3 year pattern.
Stamp Duty Refund
An eligible incoming talent who has entered Hong Kong under designated talents admission schemes acquired a residential property in Hong Kong on or after October 19, 2022 (i.e. the date of announcement of the 2022 Policy Address) and subsequently becomes a Hong Kong Permanent Resident (after residing in Hong Kong for seven years) can apply for a refund of the Buyer's Stamp Duty (15%) and a flat rate of 15% of the Ad Valorem Stamp Duty (15%) being charged at the time of purchase of the residential property.
In summary, an eligible incoming talent may apply for stamp duty refund if the following conditions are fulfilled:
1. he/she as an eligible incoming talent under the following designated talents admission scheme has acquired a residential property in Hong Kong on or after 19 October 2022:
- the General Employment Policy (GEP),
- Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP),
- Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS),
- Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS),
- Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG),
- Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents (ASSG) and
- Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS).
2. he/she holds a valid visa under the designated talents admission schemes and does not own any other residential property in Hong Kong at the time of acquisition of the property concerned, unless he/she acquires the property concerned to replace his/her only residential property in Hong Kong, i.e. to buy a new one and then sell the original one within 12 months from the date of assignment of the property concerned;
3. he/she has become a Hong Kong Permanent Resident after residing in Hong Kong for seven years;
4. at the time of application for refund of Stamp Duty, he/she is still the owner of the property concerned; and
5. he/she can only apply for refund in respect of one residential property.
The Ad Valorem Stamp Duty at Scale 2 rates (i.e. the rates applicable to first-time home buyers who are Hong Kong Permanent Residents) will still be payable.
In general, it takes four weeks to process visa/entry permit applications under the TTPS. Online applications are available.