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How to Claim Asylum in Hong Kong ( 10 Helpful Resources!)

How to Claim Asylum in Hong Kong (+ 10 Helpful Resources!)

Seeking refuge in HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Adminstrative Region)? Figuring out the asylum process here can be overwhelming, unfortunately, especially for those who are already vulnerable and traumatized. 

We want to help, so we put together this guide. Here, we’ve listed down the steps you need to take to claim asylum in Hong Kong. 

Moreover, we added a list of resources to help you with whatever else you might need for asylum!

How does one claim asylum in Hong Kong? 

DifficultyVery Hard  ●●●●●
Number of steps 5
Time neededSeveral weeks
Things you needHong Kong tourist visa, flight ticket to Hong Kong 

Claiming asylum is not an easy task, but don’t get discouraged. Here are the steps to get through the process:

1. Enter using a tourist visa 

Enter using a tourist visa's Homepage

Individuals who want to claim asylum in Hong Kong have to enter using a tourist visa. That is, if you’re entering from a country that needs one. 

So, how do you know if you need a visa? Check the table in the section labelled “Part II” of this page on the Hong Kong government’s website.

2. Overstay 

Overstay's Homepage

After entering Hong Kong, you then need to overstay your visa. 

3. Surrender your status

Surrender your status' Homepage

After doing the previous step, this is where you need to surrender their status voluntarily to the HKSAR Immigration Department. You have to give them written notice and explain why you can’t go back to your home country. 

4. Wait for the case’s resolution

Wait for the case’s resolution's Homepage

After submitting the written notice, you will be given a Recognizance Document printed in an A4 paper by the immigration department. This document states that you are being released while they wait for your case’s resolution. 

You have to wait around six weeks in order to receive your Recognizance Document. The department will let you know how they’ll contact you. 

Note that several weeks after receiving the document, you can typically start receiving subsidies from the International Social Service by the Hong Kong government. 

Step 5: Start with the unified screening system 

Start with the unified screening system's Homepage

You’ll begin the unified screening system in order to file a non-refoulement claim. That essentially just means waiting to be granted formal refugee status so you can’t be sent back to the country where your life might be in danger. 

While you wait, you are not allowed to work nor volunteer, so unfortunately, you don’t have a choice but to depend on the subsidies that you receive from the government. 

This results in most asylum seekers being under the poverty line since this process takes years to complete. That’s why we also provided several resources or organizations that can help asylum seekers with the process (they’re listed later in this article). 

How are refugees different from asylum seekers? 

How are refugees different from asylum seeker's Homepage

The difference between asylum seekers and refugees is that the latter is a person who has left his country for fear of persecution and found shelter in another country. 

An asylum seeker is someone who has not found that shelter yet – he’s still seeking refugee status and waiting for the decision regarding his asylum claim. 

How does the government support asylum seekers in Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong government supports asylum seekers by providing them a subsidy for several necessities. It can be around HK$ 3,300 for an adult, though it depends on your circumstances. 

The total amount is not very large, as despite inflation, the total subsidy being provided by the government has not changed since 2014. Here’s the breakdown of the subsidies:

1. Housing

Housing's Homepage

When it comes to the housing subsidy, adults receive HK$1,500 (only half for children). This goes directly to the landlord. 

Do note however, that the average rent in Hong Kong when it comes to subdivided flats is HK$5,000. This is for flats that are around 130 square ft. 

2. Utilities 

Utilities' Homepage

Households receive HK$300 for utilities. 

3. Food

Food's Homepage

An e-card that can be used in supermarkets has an amount of HK$1,200 of food (for each adult)

4. Transportation

Transportation's Homepage

When it comes to transportation, asylum seekers receive only HK$200-300 (cash). 

5. Education

Education's Homepage

For educational support, the Hong Kong government only grants it to refugee children at least 6 years old. This is why younger refugee children are left without any educational support. 

That said, refugee children who are younger than 6 years of age can apply for a grant that costs around HK$3,885 per year. This is intended to help cover education costs. 

The downside to this is that the grant is widely considered insufficient for the cost of schooling children at this age. Furthermore, the application process is time-consuming. 

In fact, families looking for kindergarten fee assistance from the Student Finance Office are required to wait at least 3 months for processing. Moreover, they are expected to pay the tuition in advance even if they don’t have a source of income.

Are there other ways to further seek help as an asylum seeker in Hong Kong?

Yes, there are other ways to seek help as an asylum seeker in Hong Kong, specifically from organizations such as Health in Action and Amnesty International. 

Here are resources you can turn to that aim to provide help for asylum seekers and refugees. We also added essential resources such as mental health services, free food drives, and more. 

This should show you that there are a lot of people out there who are willing to support asylum seekers. You are not alone! 

1. Health in Action


Address: Wing Cheung Industrial Building, 5B, 5/F, 58-70 Kwai Cheong Rd, Kwai Chung, Hong Kong

Contact number: +852 4628 3691 (hotline); +852 6618 9212 (WhatsApp)

Operating hours: Sunday & Monday Closed; Tuesday & Wednesday, Friday 9 AM – 6 PM; Thursday 2 PM – 9 PM; Saturday 9 AM – 1 PM

Health in Action is a non-government organization that aims to provide healthcare services to everyone. Their main target sectors are ethnic minorities, low-income families, and refugees. 

They are pretty transparent when it comes to their progress and even include the annual report on their website. You can view it here

If you’re an asylum seeker or a refugee, you may contact them using the number we included above. You should contact them if you need health-related support, information, and advice. 

2. Justice Center Hong Kong 


Address: theDesk, 511 Queen’s Rd W, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Contact number: +852 3109 7359

Operating hours: Monday – Friday 9:30 AM – 6 PM, Saturday & Sunday Closed

The Justice Center has been helping marginalized people in Hong Kong for 16 years now. 

Here, asylum seekers, refugees, victims of torture, human trafficking, and forced labor can reach out if they need help in legal and social welfare aspects. 

Moreover, they also have several members who know how the process of Hong Kong’s non-refoulement protection law works. 

They have a lot of professionals who can provide you with the help you need. 

For example, in 2021 they were able to help out 199 refugees and forced migrants. 10 asylum claims have been approved and 19 refugees were able to receive work permission.  

3. Amnesty International Hong Kong


Address: 3F Office D, 32 Ferry St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong

Contact details: +852 2300 1250

Amnesty International, as you can tell from the name, is a non-government organization that makes an impact on a global scale. In fact, there are over 10 million people who are part of this organization internationally. 

They’ve been around for 50 years, so they already have tons of achievements under their belt such as opening offices in several continents so they can reach more people. 

To help asylum seekers and the like, they push forward their movements so that the governments respect these people’s rights. 

Aside from helping out refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, they also help in climate change, child rights, freedom of expression, sexual and reproductive rights, and more. 

4. Grassroots Future 


Grassroots Future is a charity based in Hong Kong. Their main objective is to help by providing food to the asylum seekers and refugees. 

Aside from providing food, they also help when it comes to people’s well-being and education. They’re quite active in making sure that refugees are surrounded by their strong community. 

They do all these things by hosting food and culture events, which they’ve started in 2016. 

They also do other activities like cooking demonstrations or workshops, food or culture sharing, exhibitions, concerts or shows, and crafts workshops. 

5. Christian Action


Address: 55 Clear Water Bay Road, Choi Wan (2) Estate, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Contact details: (852) 2382 3339

Christian Action is a charitable organization that has been around since 1985. 

They have several programs for refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong. 

Under education and training, they can provide several services like child tutorial support, summer youth camp, skill training for adults, employability program, and such. 

They can also help when it comes to psychosocial and casework. This includes recreational activities, referrals to legal services, case management and care planning, counseling and therapy, etc. 

Moreover, they can also provide the basic needs through soup kitchens, emergency housing, in-kind donation distribution, and the like. 

To check the areas where you can receive help, please refer to their website. 

6. Habitat For Humanity Hong Kong


Address: 9/F, V-Point, 18 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Contact details: 2530 3379 (case referrals); 2530 3389 (donations and general inquiries)

Having been around in Hong Kong since 2004, Habitat For Humanity has been providing aid to the local community. They do this by inviting volunteers who share the same vision and together, everyone helps in enhancing the housing conditions in Hong Kong. 

Since a lot of asylum seekers have a hard time improving their living conditions, they could greatly benefit from this organization. 

As of the moment, they have several programmes like project home works, project school works, aging in place, and housing in place. 

7. Bethune House

Bethune House's Homepage
Image from Bethune House


Contact details: +852 9338 0035

The Bethune House aims to help migrant women by providing them shelter. They’re quite different from a lot of shelters out there because they can also help you if you need any medical or case support. 

Additionally, they are also able to help with education and training when it comes to improving your skills. They support 700 cases yearly. 

They also have useful learning programs at the Bethune House. As of writing, this includes cooking lessons, arts therapy, English lessons, knowing your rights and responsibilities (in Tagalog and Bahasa), and more. 

8. The Social Welfare Department

The Social Welfare Department's Homepage


Contact details: 2343 2255

If you’re struggling and think you need some professional help, the Social Welfare Department in Hong Kong has free clinical psychology assistance. 

You can reach out to them by contacting the number we listed above, especially if you haven’t received any service under them yet. After you go through the first screening process, they will give a referral for psychological services. 

However, if you’re already receiving other counseling or welfare services from them, you can skip the first process and reach out to your social worker instead to be referred to physiological services.  Their services are free of charge. 

9. OCD & Anxiety HK

Contact details: [email protected]

As we mentioned, your mental health matters too. Experiencing tough situations might lead to several mental health problems – there’s no shame in that. 

If you think what you’re experiencing might be OCD or anxiety, you can always reach out to this non-profit. The services they offer are support, education, and counsel. They can also provide you resources to help you cope during your journey. 

They have monthly sessions, all of which are free. 

However, do note that the sessions are conducted in English. If you want to avail of their translation services, you have to let them know beforehand. 

10. Alcoholics Anonymous Hong Kong

Alcoholics Anonymous Hong Kong's Homepage


Contact details: +852 9073 6922; AA_in_HongKong (WeChat)

Look, we’re not here to judge. A lot of people struggle with the displacement of being a refugee from their own country, and all too often turn to the bottle. 

If you think you have a drinking problem compounding your troubles as a refugee or asylum-seeker, we’re proud of you for even taking the first step of admitting it. We know it wasn’t easy. 

The second step is looking for help and that’s exactly what Alcoholics Anonymous is for. There’s no need to pay anything – don’t worry. 

You’ll be surrounded by different people with the same goal, so you can help each other work towards a life of sobriety. 

There’s no need to register or fill up any forms. All you have to do is show up to the meeting. Know when the next one is by sending them a message or giving them a call (if you’re comfortable with that). 

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