Stephen Barnes, Co-Founder of Hong Kong Visa Centre

Stephen Barnes is taking advantage of the highly lucrative Hong Kong immigration market. If you want a Hong Kong visa, he’s your guy!
What’s your story?
Late developer, graduated law school at 32, specialised in Hong Kong immigration at 35, did well, ventured away from my core competency, three failed ventures and lost my shirt as a result, reinvented my niche in 2011, been growing ever since, made it all back and now creating the conditions for a monopoly in my narrow, yet highly lucrative, niche.

What excites you most about your industry?
Our competition don’t understand how the market place is being disrupted by our activities. In Hong Kong, visas, all the players are offering a proposition that is at least 25 years out of date. A monopoly awaits us. It’s just a matter of time.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Moved to Japan in 1984 then came to Hong Kong for the love of a good woman in 1987. Been in business here since 1993.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. The can-do attitude and the ability to be a big fish in a small pond. In the connection economy that we live in today, the connections in Hong Kong are easily reinforced off line once they have been made on line.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Stick to your knitting. Whenever I have wandered away from Hong Kong immigration it has cost me dearly. Of course, my failures have been hugely valuable experiences after the fact they have directly contributed to my ‘success’ today, but the trauma and disruption should not be underestimated. Failing is hard.

Who inspires you?
I have 4 intellectual heroes all of whom have impacted directly on how my business model is configured: Kevin Kelly, Don Tapscott, Seth Godin and Charlie Munger.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The Hong Kong Audit Commission report number 66 released in April 2016 confirmed my long held assumption that the total available market for Hong Kong immigration services amounts to USD100 million per year!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d qualify as a barrister not a solicitor and seek to become a QC.

How do you unwind?
I make videos essaying my story, sharing the insights we have gleaned over 5 years of publishing in our immigration niche. I figured out  a long time ago that if I don’t tell my story, no-one else will!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Okinawa. My wife is Japanese and we always have a great time. It’s Japan with a softer edge. Laid back people, good food, great scenery and it just works. Great value for money and just 2 hours from Hong Kong.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Wow – too many. Pushed to settle on a single one, it would have to be New Rules for a New Economy by Kevin Kelly. Given a second option, Purple Cow, Seth Godin.

Shameless plug for your business:
Do your Hong Kong visa for free by using our 100% free D-I-Y guide to the Hong Kong immigration process located at

How can people connect with you?
Via my blog

Twitter handle?
@HongKongVisas (what else!)

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <>
Connect with Callum here:
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from

About Callum Laing

Leave a Reply