HONG KONG : THE FACTS
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.