Immigration Department year-end briefing 2009

25 January 2010

The Immigration Department was awarded the First Runner-up of the Service Enhancement Award (Large Department) and Second Runner-up of the Best Performance Pledges Award under the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme 2009 organised by the Civil Service Bureau. In collaboration with other government departments, the "Boundary Joint Command Centre" and "Science in the Public Service" also won the Champion and Merit Award of the Partnership Award respectively. Moreover, in the Tourist Satisfaction Index Study published by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in December last year, among the six tourism-related sectors, the Immigration Department ranked second in the tourist satisfaction score, after the transportation sector. Throughout the years, the Immigration Department has been committed to enhancing its service performance and striven to achieve the goal of being the foremost immigration service in the world in effectiveness and efficiency.

Traffic at Control Points

The Control Branch experienced another busy year of passenger traffic in 2009. Some 223 million passengers passed through our control points, which was about the same volume as in 2008. The total number of visitor arrivals reached 29.6 million, representing a slight 0.2% increase, among which 8.65 million passengers travelled through the Airport Control Point, while 17.63 million and 3.32 million passengers passed through land boundary control points and sea control points respectively.

Golden Week

There were adjustments in the holiday arrangements on the Mainland in 2009, resulting in a number of minor golden weeks. Whereas Mainland visitors would bunch during the Chinese New Year or National Day Golden Weeks in the past, their travel patterns have become more scattered now. Overall, the number of Mainland visitor arrivals reached 17.69 million in 2009, an increase of 6.5% over the previous year.

Operator of Control Points

Diversion of traffic at boundary control points

The Shenzhen Bay Control Point (SBCP) is the first boundary control point providing co-location of boundary crossing facilities to both passenger and vehicular traffic between Hong Kong and the Mainland. In 2009, 16.85 million passengers and 2.71 million vehicles travelled through the SBCP, representing an increase of 34.6% and 25.5% respectively compared with the workload of 2008 and a peak daily traffic of 82,073 passengers was recorded on December 27, 2009.

Passenger traffic at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point (LMCSCP) has grown steadily since its commissioning. The daily average passenger figure rose from about 60,000 in early 2009 to around 75,000 at the end of 2009, representing an increase of 25%. In 2009, more than 24 million passengers travelled through the control point and a peak daily traffic of 99,451 passengers was recorded on December 26, 2009.

The two new control points helped alleviate the pressure on the existing boundary control points, and can help to improve our service standard at other land boundary control points. While overall land boundary passenger traffic recorded an increase of 2.3%, the passenger traffic at Hung Hom, Lok Ma Chau, Lo Wu and Sha Tau Kok recorded a decrease from the last year. However, all boundary vehicular control points recorded an increase in visitor traffic in the last quarter by 4.2% to 42.2% compared with the same period in 2008 (Shenzhen Bay +42.2%; Lok Ma Chau +4.2%; Sha Tau Kok +17.9% and Man Kam To +35.5% ). In 2009, the SBCP and LMCSCP shared 9.9% and 14.2% of the overall land boundary passenger traffic respectively, and the SBCP took up 18.6% of the overall vehicular traffic.

Facilitation of People Movement

Facilitation of Cross-boundary Students

In the 2009-10 school year, a rising number of cross-boundary students passed through boundary control points. The daily number of cross-boundary students (under 11 years of age) was around 10,200. Designated counters were reserved during peak hours to expedite the clearance of the students. Six designated e-Channels for cross-boundary students have also been put into operation at Lo Wu Control Point.

To further facilitate cross-boundary students to travel between the Mainland and Hong Kong, the Administration approved 42 special quotas daily for coach operators to run door-to-door cross-boundary coaches for students using the Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok and Shenzhen Bay Control Points. Following the "On-board clearance" trial scheme for cross-boundary students since March 2008 on coaches passing through Man Kam To Control Point, Sha Tau Kok Control Point has also put the "On-board clearance" on trial since August 2009 to provide a speedy and safe service to cross-boundary students.

Extension of e-channel service and streamlined entry arrangement to Macao permanent residents

To further enhance immigration facilitation for Hong Kong and Macao residents travelling between the two places, the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Region Governments introduced new immigration facilitation measures on December 10, 2009. Under the new arrangement, holders of the Macao Smart Permanent Identity Card may visit Hong Kong on the strength of their identity cards without the need to present other travel documents, complete arrival/departure cards or to furnish declaration forms. Eligible Hong Kong residents can also travel to Macao on the strength of their smart identity cards without furnishing arrival/departure cards. Eligible Hong Kong and Macao residents aged 11 or above may also use automated passenger clearance services in Hong Kong and Macao upon successful enrolment. A total of eight "Macao Resident e-Channels" were installed at the Macau Ferry Terminal and China Ferry Terminal to provide self-service immigration clearance to enrolled Macao residents. Enrolment offices have also been set up at the arrival halls of the above-mentioned control points to provide enrolment service for eligible Macao residents.

Facilitation during 2009 5th East Asian Games Period

The 2009 East Asian Games (EAG) were held in Hong Kong from December 5 to 13, 2009. The Department implemented appropriate measures to facilitate the entry of EAG participants such as athletes, referees, etc. We were tasked with providing efficient and effective services for participants, guests and visitors during the Games period while maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong In addition to visa facilitation arrangements, designated counters were also set up at major control points to provide speedy immigration service for EAG participants.

Admission of Talent and Investors

Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)

Under the QMAS launched in June 2006, talented people from around the world can apply to settle in Hong Kong without first securing an offer of local employment. Up to the end of 2009, 3,868 applications were received. Thirteen selection exercises were conducted and 1, 479 applicants were allotted places, 1, 372 under the GPT and 107 under the APT. Successful applicants under the GPT were mainly from Financial and Accounting Services, Information Technology and Telecommunications, and Commerce and Trade. Under the APT, successful applicants mainly came from the Sports, Arts and Culture sector.

Changes have been made to the scheme since January 2008 to attract more aspiring young talent as well as professionals with significant accomplishments and proven ability. The changes include lifting the upper age limit and adjusting the marking scheme under the GPT. Since the relaxation and up to the end of 2009, the monthly average applications received was 111-- a significant increase compared with the monthly average intake of 67 before the relaxation. It indicates that the changes have been effective in attracting more quality migrants.

Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES)

CIES was launched in October 2003, aiming to allow those people who invest but do not engage in any business in Hong Kong (i.e. capital investors) to migrate to Hong Kong. At the end of 2009, 9, 894 applications had been received. The average reported personal assets was $21.43 million per applicant.

Of the 9, 894 applicants, 5, 953 had made the requisite investments and were given formal approval to reside in Hong Kong. They invested a total of $42 billion in permissible investment assets, representing an average of $7 million per entrant, which exceeded the basic requirement of the $6.5 million requisite investment by 8.8%. Another 1, 268 applicants were given approval-in-principle to enter Hong Kong for making the requisite investments. In 2009, the rising trend on intake of CIES applications persisted with 3, 391 applications received, up 21% compared with 2008.

Starting from March 16, 2009, applicants under the CIES may at their own cost engage a Certified Public Accountant (Practising) [CPA (Practising)] who is a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants to issue a report to demonstrate that they meet the asset requirement under paragraph 2.1(b) of the Scheme Rules. The arrangement is optional and will not affect the result of their application. At the end of 2009, 981 applicants had submitted applications with the CPA report, amounting to around 50% of the new applications received, and 537 of them were granted Approval-in-principle or Formal Approval.

Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG)

The Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG) was launched on May 19, 2008, to complement the policy initiative "Developing Hong Kong as a Regional Education Hub". The objective of the IANG is to attract non-local graduates to stay/return and work in Hong Kong to strengthen Hong Kong's human resources and competitiveness and enhance Hong Kong's attractiveness to non-local students.

The Arrangements have been well received. Since the Arrangements were launched the end of 2009, 6, 125 non-local graduates were approved to stay/return and work in Hong Kong.

Facilitation and Enhancement Measures

Extension of Working Holiday Scheme to Germany, Japan and Canad

The Working Holiday Scheme was introduced in April 2001. The purpose of the Scheme is to facilitate cultural and educational exchange and to strengthen bilateral relations between Hong Kong and the participating countries. Hong Kong established bilateral Working Holiday Schemes with New Zealand and Australia in 2001 and Ireland in 2005. Participants in the scheme are allowed to stay up to 12 months in the host country/territory for holiday and to take up short-term employment during their stay.

The bilateral Working Holiday Scheme was extended to Germany and Japan on July 1, 2009, and January 1, 2010, respectively. It will be further extended to Canada in early 2010.

Visa-free access for nationals of Russia visiting Hong Kong

To provide greater travel convenience and to promote trade, business and tourism links between Hong Kong and Russia, an agreement on mutual exemption of visa requirements was signed between the HKSAR Government and the Russian Government in 2009. With effect from July 1, 2009, HKSAR passport holders can visit Russia visa-free for a stay of up to 14 days. Likewise, Russian nationals also enjoy 14 days' visa-free access to Hong Kong.

Greater travel convenience for Macao residents visiting Hong Kong

With effect from February 16, 2009, the entry permit-free period for Macao permanent residents visiting Hong Kong has been extended from 14 days to a maximum of 180 days. In addition, the entry permit-free period for Macao non-permanent residents holding Visit Permit for Residents of Macao to HKSAR was also extended from 14 days to 30 days.

New arrangement to facilitate Taiwan visitors to Hong Kong

Starting from January 1, 2009, the period of stay in Hong Kong for Taiwan visitors holding iPermits and Multiple Entry Permits was extended from 14 days to 30 days. At the same time, the restriction that only two iPermits could be applied for within 30 days was also lifted.

To provide visitors from Taiwan with greater convenience and flexibility in planning their journeys, another arrangement was implemented from April 27, 2009. Under the new arrangement, Taiwan residents holding a valid "Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents", commonly known as "Tai Bao Zheng", may enter Hong Kong on visitor status and stay for up to seven days without the need to also possess a valid entry/exit endorsement for the Mainland as previously required.

Individual Visit endorsements for Shenzhen residents

Starting from April 1, 2009, permanent residents of Shenzhen may apply to the Exit and Entry Administration Office of the Public Security Bureau of Shenzhen for multiple journey Individual Visit endorsements for visiting Hong Kong, which is valid for one year and good for a stay of not more than seven days on each visit.

With effect from December 15, 2009, the Mainland "Individual Visit Scheme" was extended to non-Guangdong residents in Shenzhen. Eligible applicants may apply to the Exit and Entry Administration Office of the Public Security Bureau of Shenzhen for an Individual Visit endorsement for a single journey that is valid for three months or one year . Holders of Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao bearing the endorsement may be permitted to remain in Hong Kong for a period of not more than seven days.

Multiple journey "Tanqin" exit endorsement for Mainland residents

To further facilitate Mainland residents to visit relatives in Hong Kong, the Exit and Entry Administration Office of the Public Security Bureau started issuing the multiple journey "Tanqin" exit endorsement which is valid for one year with effect from December 25, 2009. Holders of an Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao bearing the multiple journey "Tanqin" exit endorsement may make multiple visits to Hong Kong within the validity of the endorsement and be permitted to stay for not more than 90 days upon each entry.

Law Enforcement

Enforcement Actions Against Illegal Employment

In 2009, 10, 829 operations against illegal employment were conducted, with 5, 911 suspected illegal workers and 980 employers arrested.

The Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance 2009 came into effect on November 14, 2009. It prohibits illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or deportation order from taking any employment, whether paid or unpaid, or from establishing or joining in any business. A person committing the offence is liable to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for three years.

After the commencement of the amended ordinance, the Department continued to strengthen law enforcement to combat illegal employment to deter those who intend to seek illegal entry into Hong Kong to take illegal employment. Between November 14 and December 2009, the Department conducted 1, 061 operations against illegal employment with 492 suspected illegal workers and 73 employers arrested. Among the illegal workers, 36 were arrested for breaching the amended ordinance.

Deterrent to Global Illegal Migration Activities

The Department has, for years, joined forces with international law enforcement agencies to combat global illegal migration that involves the extensive use of document fraud, in particular, those related to Hong Kong SAR passports.

Latest intelligence revealed a steadily growing trend of syndicates smuggling illegal migrants into overseas countries by circuitous routings. In the past, illegal migrants travelled to their countries of choice as directly as possible. Nowadays, smuggling ring members arrange for illegal migrants a set of air-tickets routing through a number of transit ports, enabling them to grasp the chance to seek illegal entry into those transit ports by procuring forged passports overseas.

The Department has adopted a proactive approach against such transnational crime by conducting joint operations with international law enforcement agencies. In January 2009, a tripartite joint operation was conducted by the Department, the National Police of France and the Royal Marechaussee of the Netherlands simultaneously at Hong Kong International Airport, Paris' Charles De Gaulle Airport and Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. In November 2009, the Department with the participation of local consulate representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America as advisers or observers also conducted a special operation at Hong Kong International Airport. These two operations proved to be successful, leading to the apprehension of 20 forgery users or escorts as well as seizure of 12 questionable passports and three questionable visas.

Combating Forged Travel Documents and Forged Smart HK Identity Cards

The Department put in a concerted effort to combat travel document forgery. The number of operations against forgery activities increased from 22, 873 in 2008 to 23, 687 in 2009. The deterrent effect was obvious. The number of forged travel documents detected decreased by 15% from 1, 423 in 2008 to 1, 207 in 2009. The Department is committed to getting to the root of the problem by smashing syndicates. To this end, we will conduct thorough investigations on users in order to trace the source.

Since June 2003, 8.87 million Smart HK identity cards have been issued, but only 2, 167 forged Smart HK identity cards were detected. In 2009, 423 forged Smart HK identity cards were detected, down 22.2% compared to 544 in 2008. The majority of forged identity cards detected were used by illegal workers and of poor quality.

To prevent the use of forged identity cards for illicit purposes, the Department will continue to deliver talks on the security features of Smart HK identity cards and identify forged identity cards for personnel in the private and government sectors who are required to handle identity cards in their work.

Bogus Marriages Uncovered

The Department has been very concerned with non-Hong Kong residents obtaining stay in Hong Kong by means of bogus marriage. A special task force has been set up to gather intelligence through various avenues and a thorough investigation will be conducted once evidence comes to light. If there is enough evidence, the Department will launch prosecutions.

In 2009, 64 Mainland residents and 116 Hong Kong residents were convicted of offences relating to bogus marriages. The 180 people convicted were sentenced to jail terms ranging from four to 28 months.

CAT Screening

The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) has been extended to Hong Kong. In 2009, a total of 3,286 torture claim cases (involving3, 286 people) were received - up 49.5% compared with 2,198 cases (involving 2,198 people) in 2008. The majority of the claimants came from South Asian and African countries.

During the year, some legally-aided torture claimants launched various legal challenges against enforcement actions and policies of the Administration. There were judicial review applications challenging, inter alia, the Administration's policy of not granting legal stay to torture claimants pending screening. As regards the screening of torture claims which had been suspended since December 2008, we have resumed screening since 24 December 2009 under an enhanced mechanism. It entails the provision of publicly-funded legal assistance to needy torture claimants. Besides, the Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance 2009 came into effect on November 14, 2009. Between November 14 and December 2009, 449 torture claims were withdrawn and the subjects voluntarily requested repatriation to their place of origin.

Appointment Booking Service

The Department has since November 3, 2008, extended its 24-hour free appointment booking service to birth registration. Parents of newborn babies can book appointments for birth registration through the Internet or the Telephone Appointment Booking System. Starting from March 25, 2009, hospitals providing obstetric services transmitted the birth returns to the births registry by electronic means. Parents of newborn babies can make use of the appointment booking service once the hospital has delivered their newborn baby's birth return to the concerned births registry.

Online submission of information required for registration of marriage

Since September 21, 2009, marrying parties having made an appointment for giving notice of intended marriage can submit the information required for registration of marriage online. This service will speed up the counter processing time by five minutes when marrying parties turn up to give notice on the appointment day.

HKSAR Passport Applications

Since February 5, 2007, we have accepted applications for the HKSAR Electronic Passport (e-Passport). To enhance our service, on February 16, 2009, the processing time for the issue of passports for children under 11 not holding a Hong Kong permanent identity card has been shortened from 19 to 14 working days. Eligible applicants aged 18 and above may now submit their applications for an e-passport through the Internet or the self-service kiosks installed at the Headquarters and Immigration Branch Offices. From November 30, 2009, eligible applicants aged 11-17 may also submit their applications through the Internet. We are now enhancing our system, aiming at opening our self-service kiosks to eligible applicants aged 11 and above before mid 2010. We believe that the new application option will be welcomed and widely used by applicants. Eligible applicants may also choose to submit their applications in person, by post, or via drop-in boxes. However, replacement passport applications due to loss/damage or change of personal particulars must be submitted in person.

To further facilitate Hong Kong residents, self-service tag kiosks for collection of travel documents were installed at the Headquarters and the Immigration Branch Offices (except Fo Tan Office and Yuen Long Office) on November 30, 2009. With a Hong Kong identity card or a collection notice, applicants may, during office hours, collect a tag at the self-service tag kiosks and wait for collection of their travel document. By doing so, applicants will no longer have to queue up at the reception counter for a quota tag. This enhancement has shortened applicants' waiting time.

Registration of Persons

Appointment Booking Services for registration of identity card

The appointment booking services through the Internet and Telephone Appointment Booking System were well received by the public. In 2009, 48% of the identity card applicants made use of the Internet appointment booking services whilst 15% of the identity card applicants used the 24-hour Telephone Booking System. The remaining 37% were walk-in applicants. To cater for the needs of the public, the walk-in quota will be suitably adjusted according to the daily appointment situation at each ROP office.

Online submission of applications for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card

The online submission of applications for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card was introduced on February 27, 2009 to enhance our service, whereby an applicant may submit an application through the Internet other than by post or drop-in methods. During the year, 626 online applications (1.08% of the total 57,876 applications) were received. Furthermore, applicants who have submitted applications for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card can submit supplementary documents online if they are required to do so upon notification. In addition, applicants can also change or enquire about their scheduled appointments for verification of original documents either online or through the 24-hour Telephone Booking System.

With effect from November 30, 2009, applicants who have submitted applications for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card can also enquire about the application status through the Internet or the 24-hour Telephone Enquiry System.

Appointment booking service for Extension Section, Foreign Domestic Helpers Section and Quality Migrants and Mainland Residents Section

Since November 30, 2009, the appointment booking service for extension of stay application has been extended to the Extension Section (except visitors), Foreign Domestic Helpers Section and Quality Migrants and Mainland Residents Section (except persons admitted into Hong Kong for training or under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme) at the Immigration Headquarters. Applicants may make an appointment through the website (www.gov.hk/esbooking) or the 24-hour appointment booking hotline at (852) 2598 0888. After making the appointment, an applicant may change or cancel the appointment at any time up to one day before the appointment date. The new service aims to shorten applicants' waiting time at the offices.

Moreover, applicants who have submitted applications for visas/entry permits may enquire about the application status through the website (www.gov.hk/immdstatusenquiry) or the 24-hour telephone enquiry system at (852) 3160 8663.

Travel documents

During the year, 471,620 HKSAR passport applications were received and 463,631 passports were issued. (A decrease of 7.9% compared to the total of 503,421 passports issued in year 2008.)

Visa-free Access for HKSAR Passport Holders

At present, 140 countries/territories have granted visa-free access or visa on arrival to holders of HKSAR passports. In 2009, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Macedonia, Russia and Guam were added to the list. The Department will continue to lobby for visa-free access for HKSAR passport holders to visit more countries/territories.

Assistance to Hong Kong Residents in Distress Outside Hong Kong

The Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) works closely with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our diplomatic and consular missions overseas, the Office of the HKSAR Government in Beijing (Beijing Office), the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong (GDETO) as well as other government departments to provide assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong. In 2009, 1,519 requests were handled.

Traffic accidents outside Hong Kong

In 2009, several traffic accidents involving a number of Hong Kong residents happened outside Hong Kong, namely in Tibet (September), Australia (October), Guangzhou (November), Hangzhou and Pattaya, Thailand (December). Following these accidents, the AHU closely worked with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, the relevant Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Missions, the Beijing Office, the GDETO and other government departments to provide all feasible assistance to the affected Hong Kong residents and their family members.

Civil Celebrants of Marriages Scheme

The Civil Celebrants of Marriages Scheme was launched in March 2006. At the end of 2009, a total of 1,565 lawyers/notary publics had been appointed as civil celebrants. The scheme has been well received, as it provides more choice, greater flexibility and greater convenience in the arrangements for weddings. At the end of 2009, 67,323 marriage notices had been given through civil celebrants, representing 34.41% of total applications. A total of 66,039 marriages were solemnised by civil celebrants, representing 36.08% of total marriage registrations.

The Department will continue to monitor the services provided by civil celebrants and review the running of the scheme, to ensure that people are able to enjoy flexible, diversified and satisfactory marriage solemnisation services. With the decrease in demand for marriage celebration at marriage registries, the performance level of the registries is also under active review.

Information Systems

Hong Kong Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Awards

The result of the "Hong Kong Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Award 2008" was announced on February 9, 2009. Our e-Passport System won the Best Innovation and Research Grand Award, the Best Innovation and Research (Open Stream) Gold Award, the Best Lifestyle (Work Life and Professional Services) Gold Award, the Best Public Service Application (Most Favoured) Silver Award and the Best Innovation and Research (Open Stream) Certificate of Merit. Meanwhile, our Control Point System won the Best Business (Application) Silver Award. Lastly, our Frequent Visitors e-Channel obtained the Best Public Service Application (Transformation) Certificate of Merit.

The result of the "Hong Kong Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Award 2009" was also announced on January 19, 2010. Our Application and Investigation Easy System (APPLIES) won the Best Public Service Application (Transformation) Certificate of Merit.

Application and Investigation Easy System (APPLIES)

The Application and Investigation Easy System (APPLIES) and Electronic Records Programme (ERP) were fully implemented in December 2008. Significant efficiency gain has been achieved in file retrieval and application processing relating to visas, permits, travel passes and nationality matters, and registration of births, deaths and marriage.

Electronic Services (e-Services)

In 2009, the Department introduced various electronic services with a view to bringing more convenience to the public. These new electronic services include reporting of immigration offences; application for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card; submission of information required for registration of marriage; application for HKSAR passport (for persons aged 11 - 17); appointment booking for collection of HKSAR passport or Document of Identity for Visa Purposes; appointment booking for applying for travel documents or extension of stay at the Immigration Headquarters, and application status enquiry for applications relating to Hong Kong visas, entry permits or verification of eligibility for permanent identity card.

Recruitment of Service Staff

In 2009, a total of 43 Immigration Officers (IO) and 147 Immigration Assistants (IA) were appointed. All of them have already joined the workforce after induction training. In early January 2010, 21 more IOs were recruited and they will be taken on strength to serve the public after induction training in July. For sustainable development of the Department, we will continue to recruit new blood in 2010.

Green Management

Environmental Policy

We are committed to ensuring that all services delivered and our internal operations are conducted in a manner that conforms to environmental protection principles and practices in accordance with the requirements under the relevant green legislation, codes of practices and Clean Air Charter as appropriate.

Energy Conservation

We have taken various effective house-keeping measures to conserve energy. For example, we have adjusted the illumination of public waiting areas at the Immigration Headquarters, branch offices, as well as the Arrival, Departure and Visitor Clearance Halls at the Lo Wu Control Point to an appropriate level as recommended by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD). In addition, energy-efficient T5 fluorescent tubes have been widely adopted in Immigration premises. Occupancy sensors are installed at cellular offices of the Immigration Headquarters. In order to further reduce power consumption, we have put forward a number of energy- saving retrofit projects to EMSD according to the recommendations of the energy audits. With the concerted efforts of staff, energy consumption in 2009 has decreased by 1% compared with 2008.

Minimisation of Paper Consumption

In order to save paper, we have made the best use of information technology for communication with staff and the public as far as possible. Emails, Internet, intranet portal and other electronic means are widely adopted in our daily operations. We have also provided members of the public with e-Services which may help reduce the use of paper. In addition, we have joined the pilot programme for e-Procurement which is less dependent on the traditional paper-based mode in procurement procedures.

Support on Clean Air Charter

In support of the Clean Air Charter, we have put great effort into reducing energy consumption and emissions of our vehicles and vessel fleet. We have also continued to improve the working environment for our staff. The offices at the Immigration Headquarters have been awarded "Good Class" under the Indoor Air Quality Certificate Scheme.

Promotion of Staff Awareness

We have organised different kinds of promotional activities such as a used-clothes collection campaign and environmental protection seminars to enhance the staff awareness of green management. Energy Wardens have been appointed in each sub-division so as to get staff to participate in the implementation of housekeeping energy conservation practices. We shall continue to cultivate a green culture among staff and identify green initiatives in the Department as appropriate.

Vision for 2010

Further improve the service to Hong Kong residents for use of the Macao Automated Passenger Clearance System

Two self-enrolment kiosks will be set up at 2/F of the Immigration Tower enabling eligible Hong Kong residents (i.e. holders of valid permanent identity card or identity card with the 'R' or '***' symbol) to enrol for use of the Macao Automated Passenger Clearance System. The processing time of the enrolment applications by the Macao authorities will be reduced from five working days to three working days. The aforesaid measures will take effect from February 1, 2010.

Takeover of Management and Operation of Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC)

The Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC) is an immigration detention facility for detaining immigration offenders (18 years old or above) who are awaiting repatriation/removal/deportation in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance. The CIC commenced operations in 2005. Owing to the then manpower situation, the Department and the Correctional Services Department (CSD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which the CSD will manage the CIC for a period of five years. Pursuant to the MOU, the management and operation of CIC will revert to the Department in the second quarter of 2010.

Greater Convenience for Travel Document Applicants

Currently, only eligible applicants aged 18 and above may submit their applications for a HKSAR passport through the self-service kiosks installed at the Headquarters and the Immigration Branch Offices. In order to provide better service to the public, the service will be extended to eligible applicants aged 11 and above by mid 2010.

Upgrade the "1868" hotline system and exploring e-network

The Immigration Department would upgrade the "1868" hotline system as part of a plan expected to be up and running at the end of 2010. The Immigration Department had formed stand-by/ reinforcement teams to provide additional manpower to handle assistance calls and public enquiries when there were emergencies. Besides, the Immigration Department is exploring an e-network to allow Hong Kong travellers to inform the Immigration Department of their itineraries and emergency contact information.

Planning for the Review of Immigration Systems Strategy

The Department plans to engage external consultants to conduct a review of its Information Systems Strategy (ISS) in the first quarter of 2010 to formulate a new ISS to improve efficiency and to deliver higher quality services to the public through judicious use of advanced information technologies.

New Cruise Terminal at Kai Tak

Commencement of operation of the first berth of the New Cruise Terminal at Kai Tak is planned for mid 2013 while the full fledged cruise terminal building including the baggage handling area, accommodation for customs, immigration, health quarantine and the Police, etc. will be completed in 2014/2015. The Immigration Clearance Hall inside the cruise terminal building is planned to be able to clear a maximum of 1,500 passengers in 30 minutes.

Service Enhancement

The Department enhances its performance pledge in 2010 and increases target passengers by 3 percentage points. The new pledge is to clear 98% of residents within 15 minutes at all control points and 95% of visitors within 15 minutes at the Airport Control Point or within 30 minutes at other Immigration control points.