HONG KONG THE FACTS Immigration by alicejenny



Hong Kong has established itself as one of the world's          2011, 49 021 Mainland talents and professionals were
major destinations for tourists and business visitors. In       admitted under the scheme.
2011, passenger arrivals and departures totalled 253                  The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme was
million.                                                        implemented on June 28, 2006. The scheme is a quota-
      The Immigration Department is responsible for two         based entrant scheme and operated on a points-based
main areas: for control of people moving into and out of        system. It seeks to attract highly skilled or talented persons
Hong Kong by land, sea and air; and the documentation of        from the Mainland and overseas to settle in Hong Kong in
local residents, including the processing of applications       order to enhance Hong Kong’s economic competitiveness
relating to the Chinese Nationality Law and claims to right     in the global market. Successful applicants are not
of abode under the Basic Law (BL), the issue of travel          required to secure an offer of local employment before
documents and identity cards, and the registration of births,   taking up residence in Hong Kong. As at the end of 2011, a
deaths and marriages.                                           total of 2 094 applicants were allocated quotas.
                                                                      The Capital Investment Entrant Scheme was
Immigration Control: Hong Kong has all along adopted            implemented on October 27, 2003. The objective of the
a liberal and open immigration policy. Nationals of about       scheme is to facilitate the entry for residence by capital
170 countries and territories are allowed visa-free             investment entrants, i.e. persons who make capital
visits to Hong Kong for periods ranging from 7 to 180           investment in Hong Kong but would not be engaged in the
days. Professionals and businessmen are welcome                 running of any business here. Entrants under this scheme
to work and invest in Hong Kong. While every effort is          are allowed to make their choice of investments amongst
made to facilitate the entry of visitors and those who          permissible investment assets without the need to
contribute to Hong Kong’s development and prosperity,           establish or join in a business. The investment threshold
immigration controls are designed and operated to prevent       under this scheme has been raised from $6.5 million to
the entry of undesirable persons. Immigration can have a        $10 million with effect from October 14, 2010. As at the
direct or indirect effect on such fields as housing, trade,     end of 2011, 19 984 entrant applications were received. Of
tourism, economy, education, employment, aviation,              which, 15 417 applications were approved, including
shipping, crime prevention and public order. All these          13 111 for formal approval and 2 306 for approval-in-
factors have to be taken into account in the operation of       principle. The amount of investments made under the
controls.                                                       scheme totalled $94.89 billion.
      Every visitor to Hong Kong must have adequate funds             The Immigration Arrangements for Non-local
for the visit and an onward booking. Persons applying for       Graduates was launched on May 19, 2008 to complement
permission to live, work or study in Hong Kong are              the policy initiative “Developing Hong Kong as a Regional
required to obtain visas or entry permits before arrival.       Education Hub”. Persons from outside the HKSAR who
      After reunification, the BL provides the Hong Kong        have obtained a degree or higher qualification in a full-time
Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government with           and locally-accredited programme in Hong Kong (non-local
full autonomy on immigration control matters.                   graduates) may apply to stay/return and work in Hong
                                                                Kong under the arrangement.            Successful applicants
Policies to Attract Talent and Capital: Overseas                may be granted 12 months’ stay on time limitation without
professionals who possess special skills, knowledge or          other conditions of stay. They are free to take up and
experience of value to and not readily available in Hong        change employment during their permitted stay without the
Kong, or who are in a position to make substantial              need to seek prior approval from the Immigration
contributions to the economy, may apply to work here            Department. As at the end of 2011, 15 359 non-local
under the General Employment Policy (GEP). Applicants           graduates were approved to work in Hong Kong under this
must have a confirmed offer of employment, the                  arrangement.
remuneration package of which must be broadly                         Persons admitted under the aforesaid policy schemes
commensurate with the prevailing market rate of Hong            or arrangement may apply to bring in their spouse and
Kong. In 2011, 30 557 overseas professionals were               unmarried dependent children below the age of 18 under
admitted under the GEP.                                         prevailing dependant policy.
     The Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and
Professionals was implemented on July 15, 2003 with             Facilitation of Passenger Movements: In 2011, the total
assessment criteria in line with those under the GEP. The       number of passengers moving into and out of Hong Kong
objective of this scheme is to attract qualified Mainland       was 253 million, an increase of 5.2 per cent compared with
talent and professionals to work in Hong Kong in order to       241 million in 2010. The number of visitors travelling to
meet local manpower needs and enhance Hong Kong's               Hong Kong increased from 36.05 million in 2010 to 41.93
competitiveness in the globalised market. The scheme has        million in 2011, increased by 16.3 per cent. This included
no sectoral restrictions and allows intra-company transfer      27.88 million from the Mainland and 2.19 million from
of senior managers and professionals. As at the end of          Taiwan.
      Lo Wu continues to be the busiest control point. In        17 to submit their passport applications through self-
2011, 92.83 million passengers passed through this control       service kiosks installed at the Wan Chai Immigration
point. To further strengthen the economic relation between       Tower.
Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region, 24-hour                   The department started to issue the smart identity
clearance service for cross-boundary passengers was              cards on June 23, 2003 and the territory-wide identity card
introduced at the Lok Ma Chau Control Point on January           replacement exercise launched on August 18, 2003 was
27, 2003. The total passenger throughput there in 2011           completed on March 31, 2007. On November 30, 2008, all
was 31.37 million.                                               the old identity cards issued before June 23, 2003 were
      To enhance immigration clearance efficiency and            declared invalid. Holders of old identity cards who have not
overall passenger and vehicle throughput, the department         replaced their identity cards during the specified call-up
introduced the Entry/Exit Processing and Records System          periods due to their absence from Hong Kong may apply
at all control points in 2004, followed by the phased            for new identity cards within 30 days of their return to Hong
implementation of the Automated Passenger Clearance              Kong.
and Automated Vehicle Clearance Systems (collectively
known as e-Channels) since December 2004. The e-                 Chinese Nationality Matters: After the reunification, the
Channels facilitate eligible smart identity card holders to      department started to process applications relating to the
perform self-service clearance at all control points.            Chinese Nationality Law. In 2011, a total of 152
      The department further extended the e-Channel              applications were received for declaration of change of
services to cross boundary primary school students under         nationality, 1 219 for acquisition of Chinese nationality, 52
the age of 11 and frequent visitors since December 2007          for renunciation of Chinese nationality and 15 for
and May 2008 respectively. To provide faster immigration         restoration of Chinese nationality.
clearance to enrolled Hong Kong residents aged 18 or
above who are existing e-Channel users, a pilot scheme           Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Outside Hong
for Express e-channel has commenced at the Lo Wu                 Kong: Hong Kong residents outside Hong Kong in need of
Control Point in March 2009.                                     assistance (e.g. those who have lost their travel
      Besides, to further enhance immigration facilitation for   documents, being involved in traffic accidents, being
Hong Kong and Macao residents, both the Hong Kong and            arrested or detained) may approach the Chinese
Macao immigration authorities have introduced in                 diplomatic and consular missions overseas, the
December 2009 the e-Channel service to eligible Macao            Immigration Sections of the Office of the Government of
and Hong Kong residents who may use the authomated               the HKSAR in Beijing and the Economic and Trade Office
clearance service at designated control points of the other      of the Government of the HKSAR in Guangdong, or the
side after successful enrollment. As at end December 2011,       Immigration Department in Hong Kong. In 2011, a total of
a total of 378 passenger e-Channels and 80 vehicular e-          4 045 requests for assistance were received.
Channels had been installed at all control points.
      To further enhance immigration facilitation for            Registration of Outbound Travel Information (ROTI):
Mainland visitors, the department has begun the enrolment        Before travelling abroad, Hong Kong residents can use the
service of e-channel for eligible Mainland frequent visitors     ROTI service to register their contact details and itinerary.
holding Exit-Entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong        The information they provide allows the Assistance to
Kong and Macao since December 5, 2011. The e-channels            Hong Kong Residents Unit of the Hong Kong Immigration
services are also provided to enrolled Mainland frequent         Department to contact and assist them in an emergency
visitors in phases from Jan 2012 onwards at 6 control            outside Hong Kong.
Points including Lo Wu, Macau Ferry Terminal and Hong
Kong International Airport, etc.                                 Illegal Immigration: In 2011, the number of Mainland
                                                                 illegal immigrants intercepted was 1 631, representing a
Right of Abode: Under the law, Hong Kong permanent               decrease of 30.3 per cent when compared with 2 340
residents have the right of abode in the HKSAR. Article 24       arrested in 2010. Some of the illegal immigrants came to
of the BL sets out six categories of persons who are             Hong Kong to take up unlawful employment while some
permanent residents of the HKSAR. On July 1, 1997, the           came here to meet their families and relatives. The number
Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115) was amended to align            of Mainland pregnant illegal immigrants in 2011 was 6,
the right of abode provisions with those in the BL.              which represented a decrease of 14.3 per cent when
     The Certificate of Entitlement Scheme was introduced        compared with 7 in 2010.
on July 10, 1997. Under the scheme, a person’s status as
a Hong Kong permanent resident by descent can only be            Administration: Since its formation in 1961, the
established by holding his valid travel document affixed         Immigration Department has expanded from 73 uniformed
with his certificate of entitlement.                             and 128 civilian staff to the present establishment of 5
     The Registration of Persons Ordinance (Cap. 177)            190uniformed officers and 1 464 civilians as at December
and subsidiary legislation provide for the issue of              31, 2011. Its size and range of responsibilities now
permanent identity cards to Hong Kong permanent                  bear little resemblance to the embryonic organisation of
residents. The permanent identity card contains a                1961.
statement that the holder has the right of abode in Hong              The work is carried out by Immigration Headquarters
Kong.                                                            in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island, branch offices and
                                                                 registries located throughout Hong Kong, Kowloon and the
Passports and Identity Cards: The department started to          New Territories; and from the 13 points of entry and
issue HKSAR Passport on July 1, 1997 and a total of              departure. The 13 control points are located at the airport,
575 867 were issued in 2011 The HKSAR passport is                the harbour, the River Trade Terminal, the Hong Kong-
technically advanced. Since February 5, 2007, the                Macau Ferry Terminal, the China Ferry Terminal, the Tuen
department has started to issue electronic passports with        Mun Ferry Terminal, Lo Wu, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok,
enhanced security features. With effect from December 22,        Lok Ma Chau, MTR Lok Ma Chau Station, MTR Hung Hom
2007, applicants aged 18 or above may apply for a HKSAR          Station for through trains to and from the Mainland, as well
passport via the Internet and this service was extended to       as the first control point with co-location facilities at
applicants aged 11-17 from November 30, 2009. Starting           Shenzhen Bay of Shekou, Shenzhen.
from August 25, 2008, applicants aged 18 or above may                 The Enforcement Division processed 46 594
also submit their passport applications via the self-service     investigations. 76 404 stops, 8 099 searches, 6 823 arrests
kiosks. With effect from December 29, 2011, a pilot              and 9 782 detentions were made. 6 498 offenders were
programme was launched for eligible applicants aged 11-          prosecuted.
        In 2011, 559 639 applications for issue of identity                                The Third Information Systems Strategy (ISS-3)
cards were received. Besides, a total of 26 725 copies of                             Review by an external consultant was completed in
Certificates of Registered Particulars were issued.                                   September 2010.
     During 2011, the Births and Deaths Registry                                           Thereafter, the department has since started in
registered 95 348 births and 42 188 deaths while the                                  phases to carry out feasibility studies (FS) on the
Marriage Registry registered 57 883 marriages.                                        information system recommended in the Review. Following
     The introduction of the Civil Celebrants of Marriages                            completion of FS on the New Information Technology
Scheme since April 21, 2006 has brought greater                                       Infrastructure (ITI) in October 2011, the department
convenience to marrying parties in their choice of place                              successfully obtained from the LegCo Finance Committee
and time for wedding. For the period from April 21, 2006                              in December 2011 a commitment of $862 million for
to December 31, 2011, 118 167 couples (representing                                   implementation of the project. FS on the next generation
40.26% of the marriages celebrated in the same                                        Immigration Control System (ICONS) had also
period) had their marriages celebrated through the civil                              commenced in August 2011 and is scheduled to complete
celebrants.                                                                           in mid 2012.

Annual Passenger Movements
                                                   2005                2006          2007         2008                 2009              2010          2011
       Air                                   25 977 500          28 077 500    30 146 100    30 169 500           29 243 900       33 276 800    35 494 179
       Land                                 143 865 200         150 780 900   161 175 700   166 105 200          169 968 000      181 852 000   190 618 159
       Sea                                   21 573 800          23 337 300    26 532 100    26 703 000           23 908 200       25 918 500    27 291 600
       Total                                191 416 500         202 195 700   217 853 900   222 977 700          223 120 100      241 047 300   253 403 938

Travel Documents in Circulation
                                                    2005              2006          2007            2008                  2009           2010          2011
       HKSAR Passports                         3 326 200          3 670 115     3 920 780      3 934 288             4 088 337      4 261 263     4 524 015
       Documents of Identity                     286 300            304 500       310 100        312 037               324 728        321 647       334 635
       HKSAR Re-entry Permit                     481 000            469 900       473 100        493 778               509 749        535 504       561 830

Published by the Information Services Department,                                     Immigration Department Home Page Address:
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government                                    http://www.immd.gov.hk/                             August 2012
GovHK Website: http://www.gov.hk
Information contained in this publication may be freely used.
No acknowledgement is necessary.

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