Thanks for the response. I have now read the link you provided and have some more questions having read the document:
1/ I own three properties in the UK, section 5.1.5. in particular would seem to indicate that I can add rental income to the salary and savings. My gross rental income is £20,000 p.a., and net of mortgage payments this is £12,000 p.a., is it correct that this £12,000 can be added?
2/ If this £12,000 can be added, would a job offer be required given that the £12,000 + £9,600 ((£40,000 - £16,000) / 2.5) = £21,600 is higher than the £18,600 minimum? When looking Category B (5.4.2. & 5.4.3.) this would seem to indicate that we can apply for the visa before I return to the UK without a job offer and it may be accepted on the basis of the Category C cash savings and Category D non-employment income.
3/ I know that this may not be advisable, however if I do require a job offer in addition to cash savings and non-employment income would there be any potential problems with accepted a job offer to start within three months, then applying for the visa for my girlfriend, and upon returning to the UK me not taking the job? Would there be any chance of the visa being revoked on this basis?
4/ Assuming I do have job offer in the UK and fulfil the requirements, will it be possible for my girlfriend to apply for the visa whilst I am in Hong Kong, and then if the visa application is accepted me return to the UK and her move to the UK 4-6 months after me? I'm wondering if there is any problem with her being accepted for the visa yet not moving for a further 4-6 months.
5/ It would appear that if I have been in employment less than three months in the UK yet am earning at a level above £18,600, then this will fulfil one of two criteria under category B. It also appears that the second criteria would be fulfilled providing that I had earned an amount greater than £18,600 in the 12 months prior to the application, which I will have done if I take into account my Hong Kong salary prior to leaving to return to the UK. Can you confirm that the financial requirement would subsequently be met under these circumstances, as example 5.3.11. a) appears to indicate that the requirement would be met?
6/ Would there be a problem if my girlfriend were to apply for the visa after we'd been living apart for nine months? For example, if I move back to the UK, study for three months and then secure employment and work for six months, and she then applies, will the authorities take the view that we have not been living together continuously for two years as we will have spent the last nine months apart?
Appreciate your help thus far and wait for your response. I'll be sure to rate positively again upon receipt.