The Immigration Department is one of the disciplined services in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Focusing on both law enforcement and service provision, the Immigration Department is devoted to serving the public as a vigilant gatekeeper. Our vision is to become the foremost immigration service in the world in effectiveness and efficiency, making Hong Kong one of the safest and most prosperous cities globally.
Hong Kong is an international centre of finance, trade, logistics and tourism. All passengers arriving by land, sea or air are our clients. Safeguarding Hong Kong in the frontline, officers of the Control Branch also provide convenient and courteous immigration services to passengers in the face of the ever-growing passenger traffic.
Hong Kong adopts an open immigration policy, allowing nationals of about 170 countries and territories to make visa-free visits. Since we are a participating economy of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card Scheme, registered business travellers can enjoy visa-free passage within the APEC economies. Hong Kong is one of the pioneering cities in the world to adopt Automated Passenger Clearance System on a large scale. First launched in 2004, e-Channel has considerably enhanced the efficiency and quality of clearance service at control points. There are hundreds of e-Channels in operation currently and more will be added. The total number of e-Channel users over the years is in the hundreds of millions.
We continue to simplify clearance procedures and enhance immigration facilities. Shenzhen Bay Control Point provides co-location of boundary-crossing facilities to both passenger and vehicular traffic. Passengers can easily go through immigration clearance at both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen authorities within the Passenger Terminal Building. To facilitate cross-boundary students, Simplified Clearance Procedure and On-board Clearance Service have been put in place to provide them with safe and convenient clearance. Control points at the airport, Macau Ferry Terminal and Lok Ma Chau operate 24 hours a day. With new control point projects in the pipeline, passengers will find it even more convenient to use immigration facilities in the near future.
While providing convenient immigration services, the Department strictly keeps out undesirables to ensure Hong Kong’s security and stability.
Keeping abreast of the times, the Immigration Department has launched various immigration schemes over the years to meet the needs of Hong Kong by bringing in talents and professionals to boost its development. Not only do they add impetus for the commerce and trade sector and create job opportunities, but also help us broaden our international horizons in terms of culture. These schemes include Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, General Employment Policy and Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, which attract qualified talents, professionals and entrepreneurs to bring in capital, new technologies and professional knowledge from all over the globe. To optimise human resources and sharpen the competitive edge of Hong Kong, the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates attracts eligible non-local graduates to remain or return to Hong Kong for employment. Moreover, Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents attracts eligible persons who are the second generation of emigrated Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents from overseas to return to Hong Kong for employment.
The Immigration Department plays an important role in maintaining social security and stability. We combat and prosecute offenders in breach of immigration laws, including illegal workers and their employers. Enforcement actions are jointly taken with other government departments when necessary to protect job opportunities of local workforce. The Anti-Illegal Migration Agency is committed to combating crimes such as illegal migration and forgery cases. Its vigorous enforcement measures prevent Hong Kong from being used as a springboard for human smuggling activities. Furthermore, the Immigration Department executes removal and deportation orders against illegal immigrants and undesirables, and assesses non-refoulement claims. We also manage Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre, which has been set up for immigration offenders detained or awaiting repatriation in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance. Disciplined staff of the Centre also receive training on anti-riot weapons and tactics.
The Immigration Department maintains close link with local, Mainland and overseas law enforcement agencies as well as consulates for regular exchange of expertise and intelligence so as to jointly combat immigration-related crimes.
The Immigration Department is responsible for handling nationality applications in accordance with the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China as well as issuing Hong Kong SAR passports. Currently, around 160 countries and territories have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to Hong Kong SAR passport holders.
With more and more people going on business trips and travelling, the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit has been set up to provide practical assistance to our residents in distress outside Hong Kong. The Immigration Divisions of the Mainland Offices of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR also provide prompt assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress in the Mainland. The Registration of Outbound Travel Information allows registered Hong Kong residents to receive updates on Outbound Travel Alerts outside Hong Kong and be contacted by our staff when necessary.
The Immigration Department provides services to members of the public at their different life stages including registration of births, deaths and marriages. We also issue highly secure travel documents and smart identity cards. A number of facilitation services have been launched, including self-service kiosks of Hong Kong SAR passports as a one-stop interactive platform for application. The Civil Celebrants of Marriages Scheme provides more choices for marrying couples to hold weddings unconstrained by time and locations.
By incorporating innovative ideas and technologies, the Immigration Department devises and introduces new information systems to enhance the utilisation of human resources so as to provide efficient public services in line with the sustainable development of the Department.
e-Channel, one of the top ten in the election of the Hong Kong People Engineering Wonders in the 21st Century, is an immigration system we take pride in. To further enhance clearance efficiency, apart from rolling out Express e-Channel service, we have expanded our service target group. We have developed the first e-Channel with voice navigation function in the world for visually impaired persons. We are also actively pursuing cooperation for mutual use of e-Channels by signing agreements with foreign countries and regions. Self-service immigration service is being extended by phases to Hong Kong residents and eligible visitors. Vehicular e-Channel also makes immigration clearance more efficient for cross-boundary drivers. Furthermore, the round-the-clock Enterprise System Management Centre monitors the operation of all computer systems in the Immigration Department, which allows flexible deployment of frontline staff. The e-Brain that incorporates biometric technologies and artificial intelligence can automatically approve applications for travel documents. Application and Investigation Easy System which computerises the handling of application procedure enhances working efficiency in a paperless manner. The Department has also introduced various e-Services to facilitate the public to make e-booking of appointments, e-submission of applications and enquiry on application status through the Internet.
The quality and efficient services of the Immigration Department are well received by the public. The Department has been given a number of local and international awards for its services and innovation.
We strongly believe that staff is our most valuable asset and a major key to sustainable development of the Department. A professional and highly competent workforce hinges on the excellent performance and service contributed by each and every staff member. Not only does the Immigration Service Institute of Training and Development provide the staff with induction and in-service training, but it also arranges various exchange programs for them to broaden their visions and enrich their professional knowledge so as to keep up with the ever-changing social needs and enhance contact with their counterparts in other countries and regions. The interactive communication channels established with frontline staff reinforce a sense of belonging and strengthen team spirit. Promoting caring management, we aim to cultivate a culture of trust and harmony within the Department and encourage the staff to pursue excellence in serving the public.
The Immigration Department assumes great responsibilities. We discharge our equally important duties of law enforcement and service provision with dedication and devotion. Adopting a people-based ethos and striving for excellence, our professional team will overcome all challenges ahead to work for the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.