Twenty-five immigration offenders arrested

13 November 2014

The Immigration Department arrested 15 illegal workers and 10 suspected employers during a series of territory-wide anti-illegal worker operations codenamed "Twilight" from November 10 to 13.

During the four-day operation, Immigration Task Force officers raided 25 target locations including construction sites, restaurants, units under renovation, an elderly home, a market stall, a hair salon and a retail shop, etc. The 15 illegal workers comprised nine men and six women aged 23 to 66. Among them, five were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking up any employment in Hong Kong. Ten employers comprising seven men and three women aged 28 to 66 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

"Visitors are not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment," an Immigration Department spokesman said.

The spokesman warned that it is an offence for illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order to take any employment or to establish or join in any business. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to three years' imprisonment. The Court of Appeal has issued a guideline ruling that a sentence of 15 months' imprisonment should be applied in such cases.

The spokesman also appealed to employers not to employ illegal workers, warning that it is an offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is a fine of $350,000 and imprisonment for three years. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's identity card or, if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card, his or her valid travel document. The maximum penalty for failing to do so is a fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for one year. To deter unlawful employment, the High Court laid down sentencing guidelines in 2004 reaffirming that it is a serious offence to employ someone who is not legally employable, and stating that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence.