12 February 2015
The Director of Immigration, Mr Chan Kwok-ki, delivered a year-end review of the Immigration Department's work in 2014 including its future outlook today (February 12). The following is a summary of the Department's major activities in 2014:
The Control Branch experienced another busy year of passenger traffic in 2014. Over 290 million passengers passed through our control points, representing an increase of 4.7 per cent compared with the figure for 2013. The total number of visitor arrivals reached 60.8 million, representing a 12.0 per cent increase compared with 2013, of which 12.85 million visitors travelled through the Airport Control Point, while 42.81 million passengers and 5.18 million visitors passed through land boundary control points and sea control points respectively.
With the further development of economic and social connections between the Mainland and Hong Kong, the number of Mainland visitors has kept on increasing over the years. In 2014, the total number of Mainland visitor arrivals reached 47 million with a daily average of 128 700, which was 16.1 per cent higher than in 2013.
Extension of e-Channel service
The number of passengers has been rising in recent years. To further enhance the Department's handling capacity and efficiency, we have effectively utilised information technology and extended the e-Channel service to accommodate more passengers. As at the end of 2014, a total of 431 e-Channels had been installed at all control points including 123 multi-purpose e-Channels that can be flexibly deployed for use by eligible Hong Kong residents or visitors.
To tie in with the introduction of the card-type electronic Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao (e-EEP) by the Mainland authorities in May 2014, the Department has enhanced the e-Channel system for the use of eligible e-EEP holders. These e-EEP holders may use the e-Channel service after successful completion of arrival clearance at traditional counters upon their first visit to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) with the e-EEP. By the end of 2014, over 7.7 million movements involving about 2.2 million e-EEP holders were recorded.
In addition, to further assist visually impaired persons in enjoying self-service immigration clearance, e-Channels with a voice navigation function were extended to the arrival hall of Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point as well as the arrival and departure halls of Macau Ferry Terminal Control Point in January and April 2014 respectively. The Department plans to extend the service to the arrival and departure halls of Shenzhen Bay Control Point in early 2015.
Use of automated immigration clearance service on a mutual basis with other countries/territories
Following the implementation of mutual use of automated immigration clearance services with the Republic of Korea in December 2013, similar arrangements were also implemented with the Republic of Singapore and the Federal Republic of Germany in September and November 2014 respectively. All eligible visitors under the new agreements may enrol for e-Channel service at the Airport Control Point or Macau Ferry Terminal Control Point. As at the end of 2014, over 5 000 HKSAR passport holders had applied to use the respective automated immigration clearance services of the three countries mentioned above. The Department is now discussing similar arrangements with the Australian authorities while the Government will continue to liaise with countries and regions that have a close relationship with Hong Kong on tourism and economic development to implement the reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance services for visitors. We believe that this will allow greater travel convenience for people in Hong Kong and our partner economies, which in turn will enhance economic, social and cultural ties.
Immigration Mobile Application
Since the launch of the Hong Kong Immigration Mobile Application in December 2013, around 91 000 downloads have been recorded. The Mobile Application not only provides the latest information on the estimated passenger waiting time at major land boundary control points for Hong Kong residents and visitors, but also posts the latest information on our services.
Facilitation to cross-boundary students (CBS)
With reference to figures from the Education Bureau, the number of CBS in the 2014-15 school year is around 25 000. To facilitate the immigration clearance of CBS, designated counters have been reserved during peak hours to expedite the clearance of CBS and six designated e-Channels for CBS are also operating at Lo Wu Control Point. The e-Channel service for CBS will be extended to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point with another six designated e-Channels for CBS to be put into operation in the first quarter of 2015.
To further assist CBS in travelling between the Mainland and Hong Kong, the Government has, with the agreement of the Mainland authorities after discussion, approved special quotas for coach operators to run cross-boundary coaches for students using the Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok and Shenzhen Bay control points. In order to provide more speedy and safe clearance for CBS, the on-board clearance service is currently applicable to the Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok and Lok Ma Chau control points. In addition, making use of information technology, the Simplified Clearance Procedure has been implemented at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay and Lo Wu control points to further facilitate clearance for CBS. This procedure is also applicable to CBS using the on-board clearance service in the above-mentioned control points. To enhance the handling capacity of the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Lok Ma Chau and Man Kam To control points, more parking bays for nanny buses and cross-boundary coaches were also provided.
Since the commissioning of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in mid-2013, a total of 37 cruise liners had berthed at the Terminal by the end of 2014. Following the commencement of its second berth in September 2014, the Department handled the concurrent berthing of Sapphire Princess and Voyager of the Seas with a total of over 5 400 passengers on September 29, 2014.
General Employment Policy (GEP)
Hong Kong maintains an open policy towards professionals entering the city for employment or investment (to establish or join in business). The prevailing GEP allows entry of those with special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong, or who can contribute substantially to the economy. In 2014, 31 676 foreign professionals and entrepreneurs were admitted under this policy.
Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
The ASMTP has attracted a wide variety of professionals from the Mainland to come to work in Hong Kong since its implementation on July 15, 2003. The main sectors of employment comprise academic research and education, arts and culture, and commerce and trade. In 2014, a total of 9 313 applications were approved.
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)
Under the QMAS launched in June 2006, talent from around the world can apply to settle in Hong Kong without first securing an offer of local employment. In 2014, 373 applicants were allotted quotas - 348 under the General Points Test (GPT) and 25 under the Achievement-based Points Test (APT). Successful applicants under the GPT were mainly from the sectors of financial and accounting services, information technology and telecommunications, architecture, surveying, engineering and construction. Under the APT, successful applicants mainly came from the sports and the arts and culture sectors.
Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG)
The IANG was launched on May 19, 2008, to further attract non-local graduates to stay/return and work in Hong Kong so as to strengthen Hong Kong's human capital and competitiveness. The arrangements have been well received. In 2014, 10 375 non-local graduates were given permission to stay/return and work in Hong Kong.
Implementation of new initiatives and enhancement measures
To tackle Hong Kong's challenges of an ageing population and a declining workforce we must attract and retain talent, professionals and entrepreneurs in order to build up Hong Kong's talent pool. As announced by the Chief Executive in the 2015 Policy Address, the Department will introduce a series of measures in the second quarter of 2015 in this respect.
The Department will launch a pilot scheme to attract the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents from overseas to return to Hong Kong, namely the Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents (ASSG). With their knowledge of foreign languages and culture, the second generation of Hong Kong emigrants with a good educational background is a valuable source of vibrant workforce. They can also help enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong and contribute to local economic development. Applicants are not required to have secured an offer of employment in Hong Kong upon application. They will normally be granted an initial stay of one year on time limitation only without other conditions of stay. They can then apply for an extension of stay if they have secured an offer of employment which is at a level commonly taken up by degree holders and the remuneration package is at market level. Successful applicants may also apply to bring their spouse and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18 to the HKSAR under the prevailing dependant policy. Persons admitted under the ASSG who have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years may apply for the right of abode in Hong Kong in accordance with the law.
The Department will also enhance the existing admission schemes. Specifically, the duration of stay of all entrants admitted under the GEP and ASMTP, and QMAS entrants under the GPT, will be relaxed from the current initial stay of one year to two years. The extension pattern will also be changed from the current 2-2-3 years pattern to the 3-3 years pattern. Top-tier entrants under these immigration schemes, subject to fulfilling specified criteria, which include having worked or resided in Hong Kong under the respective schemes for at least two years, and having an assessable income for salaries tax above a certain level in Hong Kong (not less than HK$2 million), may be granted a six-year extension on time limitation only without other conditions of stay upon application for the first extension. Those successful QMAS entrants under the APT will be granted upon entry eight years of stay on time limitation only without other conditions of stay. The Department will also enhance the scoring scheme of the GPT in order to attract more talent with an outstanding academic background and international work experience to work in Hong Kong.
To attract foreign entrepreneurs to establish their business in Hong Kong, the Department will specify the consideration factors under the GEP investment stream to make it more transparent, so that potential applicants can better understand the assessment criteria. In addition, applications from those who wish to establish or join in a start-up business in Hong Kong supported by government-backed programmes will be favourably considered.
Suspension of the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES)
The CIES was launched in October 2003 with the objective of facilitating the entry for residence of capital investment entrants, i.e. persons who wish to make capital investment in Hong Kong but would not be engaged in the running of any business here. As at the end of 2014, the Department had received 41 802 applications. A total of 25 504 applicants have made the requisite investments and were given Formal Approval to reside in Hong Kong. Additionally, a total of 2 493 applicants were given Approval-in-Principle to enter Hong Kong to make the requisite investments. The monthly average of applications received was 507 in 2014.
When the CIES was implemented, Hong Kong's economy was in recession and new capital was required to stimulate economic growth. In view of the latest economic situation in Hong Kong, attracting capital investment entrants should no longer be our priority. Instead, our focus should be on attracting talent, professionals and innovative entrepreneurs to contribute to our economy. The CIES has therefore been suspended with effect from January 15, 2015. Currently, there are about 15 000 applications pending processing.
Relaxation of entry arrangements for non-local students
To tie in with the policy initiative to support Hong Kong's development as a regional education hub, the existing entry arrangements for non-local students were further enhanced. With effect from March 17, 2014, eligible non-local students may apply to enter Hong Kong for exchange in full-time locally accredited local programmes at sub-degree level and non-local programmes at undergraduate or above level. In addition, non-local students of full-time locally accredited local programmes at sub-degree level and non-local programmes at undergraduate or above level may take up mandatory and study/curriculum-related internship and study/curriculum-related internship respectively. In general, non-local students admitted to take up studies in full-time locally accredited local and non-local post-secondary programmes will be granted, upon entry, a length of stay in line with the normal duration of their study programmes.
Enforcement actions against illegal employment and parallel trade activities
In 2014, 13 462 operations against illegal employment were conducted, with 6 100 suspected illegal workers and 817 employers arrested.
The Department made concerted efforts to combat offences involving parallel trade activities. Since September 2012, the Department has stepped up enforcement actions by mounting a series of anti-illegal worker operations codenamed "Windsand". As at the end of 2014, a total of 1 735 Mainland visitors had been arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading, and 14 local employers had been arrested on suspicion of employing illegal workers. Among them, 200 Mainland visitors were convicted and sentenced to periods ranging from four weeks to three months' imprisonment. In accordance with the existing mechanism, the Department has passed the particulars of the convicted Mainland residents to the Mainland authorities for cancellation of their exit endorsements and they will be prohibited from visiting Hong Kong for two years.
The Department has established a monitoring list of suspected parallel traders which contains information of persons suspected to be involved in parallel trading activities collected through various means including information on arrested and convicted persons, intelligence and analysis of immigration data. When they seek entry in the future, the Department will conduct examination and, if their purposes of entry are in doubt, refuse their entry and repatriate them to the Mainland immediately. Meanwhile, spot checks and special operations will continue to be conducted at control points to detect visitors who are suspected of being involved in parallel trade activities. As at the end of 2014, around 25 000 Mainland visitors had been refused permission to land due to suspected involvement in parallel trade activities.
Immigration measures for Mainland pregnant women
In order to tie in with the implementation of the "zero quota" policy introduced on January 1, 2013, and prevent Mainland pregnant women who do not have prior booking of obstetric services with local hospitals from entering Hong Kong for delivery, the Department has strengthened the complementary immigration measures including proactive interception at control points and analysis of the trends and methods used by them on gate-crashing, so as to arrange targeted interception and joint operations with other departments. In 2014, 55 787 Mainland pregnant women were intercepted at control points, of whom 5 489 were without prior booking for obstetric services at local hospitals and were consequently refused permission to land. Their particulars were passed on to the Mainland authorities to prevent them from taking the dangerous move of seeking emergency admission to local hospitals shortly before labour.
A task group has been established to investigate Mainland pregnant women who might have contracted a bogus marriage with Hong Kong residents, overstayed or used other illicit means to give birth in Hong Kong, as well as the intermediaries or other persons assisting them in doing so. If it is suspected that a person has made false representation to Immigration officers upon birth registration at Birth Registries or has given birth in Hong Kong through a bogus marriage, the Department will initiate investigation and subsequent prosecution. In 2014, the Department prosecuted 69 Mainland pregnant women who had overstayed in Hong Kong for delivery and 19 who had sought to give birth in Hong Kong by illicit means. Another seven Hong Kong residents were also prosecuted for assisting them in giving birth in Hong Kong. Those convicted were sentenced to up to 22 months and two weeks' imprisonment.
Since the enhancement of immigration measures and enforcement actions, the number of Mainland pregnant women seeking emergency admission to local hospitals has declined substantially from an average of around 160 cases per month in the last quarter of 2011 to less than 19 in 2014, proving the effectiveness of the measures.
Bogus marriages uncovered
The Department has been very concerned about non-Hong Kong residents obtaining permission to stay in Hong Kong via the means of bogus marriage. A special task force has been set up to gather intelligence through various avenues. The Marriage Registries have also stepped up vigilance on suspected cases. After investigation and the collection of sufficient evidence, we would prosecute the suspected persons involved. In 2014, 14 Mainland residents and 108 Hong Kong residents were convicted of offences relating to bogus marriages and were sentenced to jail terms ranging from six to 19 months.
In December 2014, the Department smashed a syndicate arranging cross-boundary bogus marriages in a series of territory-wide operations. During the operations, investigators arrested 61 suspects including the syndicate's suspected mastermind and three suspected core members, and seized a large number of Hong Kong and Mainland marriage certificates, birth certificates, copies and other items. Investigation indicated that members of the syndicate used instant messaging and social networking mobile applications as a means of communication to send documents required for marriage registration. Nine of the arrested persons have already been convicted, with a maximum sentence of 12 months' imprisonment.
Immigration Department Review 2014 (with photos) | Immigration Department
Deterrence of global illegal migration activities and combating travel document forgery
The Department has for years worked with overseas, Mainland and local law enforcement agencies to combat global illegal migration and document fraud. The Anti-Illegal Migration Agency was set up to fight against transnational illegal migration and investigate cases involving HKSAR passports. A proactive approach was adopted against transnational crimes by conducting joint operations with international and local law enforcement agencies. In December 2014, a special operation codenamed "Sky League" was conducted by the Department at Hong Kong International Airport, with the participation of representatives of the local consulates of Australia, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom as advisers or observers. In January 2015, a joint operation codenamed "Firenet" was conducted by the Department and the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department, the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau and the Shenzhen General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection to neutralise an active cross-boundary human smuggling syndicate which specialised in arranging for Vietnamese nationals to seek illegal entry into Hong Kong. During the operation, investigators arrested 23 persons including three core syndicate members. Among them, 10 Hong Kong residents, 12 Vietnamese and one Mainland resident were arrested. In addition, a number of exhibits were seized, including forged Hong Kong identity cards and copies, unlawfully altered Vietnamese entry and exit permits and bankbooks. Five of the arrested persons have already been convicted and each was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment.
The Department spares no efforts in combating travel document forgery. In 2014, a total of 27 928 operations against forgery activities were conducted and 39 313 departing or transit passengers were spot checked. In 2014, a total of 523 forged travel documents and 146 forged smart Hong Kong identity cards were detected, representing a decrease of 32 per cent and 22 per cent respectively when compared with 765 and 186 in 2013. The deterrent effect is obvious.
Deterrence of illegal activities conducted by Mainland residents in Hong Kong
The Department is very concerned about visitors committing illicit activities in Hong Kong. Under the established notification mechanism between the Hong Kong Government and the Mainland authorities, the Department regularly passes information on Mainland residents who have committed criminal offences with a conviction in Hong Kong to the Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration of the Ministry of Public Security of the Mainland, to enable the relevant authorities to strengthen assessment of their future applications for entry to Hong Kong. Generally, the Mainland authorities will not issue exit endorsements and travel documents to such persons for a period of two to five years, depending on the circumstances, to prevent them from revisiting Hong Kong for illegal activities. The Department will exchange views with the Mainland authorities from time to time over the notification mechanism, review the mechanism at appropriate times and maintain liaison with the Mainland authorities to ensure its effectiveness.
The unified screening mechanism (USM) commenced its operation on March 3, 2014. Under the USM, the Department assesses claims for non-refoulement protection against another country lodged by persons not having the right to enter and remain in Hong Kong on all applicable grounds including risk of torture, as defined under Part VIIC of the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115); risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under Article 3 of section 8 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap 383) and/or risk of persecution with reference to the non-refoulement principle under Article 33 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention) in one go. The USM procedure follows the statutory procedure for torture claims and meets the high standards of fairness as required by the law, and at the same time prevents abuse by economic migrants who seek to protract their unlawful presence in Hong Kong.
The commencement of the USM does not affect the Government's position that the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol have never been applied to Hong Kong and our firm policy of not determining the refugee status of or granting asylum to anyone. The UNHCR continues to provide international protection to refugees in accordance with its mandate. In this connection, persons whose non-refoulement claim is substantiated under the USM on grounds of persecution risk will be referred to the UNHCR for recognition as refugees under its mandate and resettlement of them to a third country. As regards unsubstantiated claimants, the Department will remove them as soon as possible.
On the commencement of the USM on March 3, 2014, a total of 6 699 non-refoulement claims were pending determination. Since then and till the end 2014, another 4 634 claims were made. During the same period, 826 claims were determined by the Department and 889 claims were withdrawn or could not be further processed. As at the end of 2014, the total number of claims pending determination was 9 618.
During 2014, 769 466 HKSAR passports were issued, representing an increase of 1.7 per cent compared with the 756 893 passports issued in 2013.
Visa-free access for HKSAR passport holders
In 2014, the Republic of Moldova, the Republic of Malawi, the Kingdom of Tonga and the Republic of Guyana were newly included into the list of countries/territories which have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to HKSAR passport holders. A total of 151 countries and territories now grant visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to holders of HKSAR passports. The Department will continue to lobby for visa-free access for HKSAR passport holders to facilitate their travel to more countries and territories.
The Registration of Persons - Kwun Tong Office was relocated from Wharf T & T Square, Hoi Bun Road, Kwun Tong to Manulife Financial Centre, Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong on April 22, 2014. To provide a better understanding of the development of registration of persons services to members of the public, a picture arcade was set up in the new office depicting the scope of services provided by the Registration of Persons Offices over the years as well as various generations of Hong Kong identity cards issued.
The Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) works closely with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the HKSAR (OCMFA), the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions overseas (CDCMs), HKSAR offices outside Hong Kong and other government departments to provide practical assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong.
In 2014, a total of 206 625 calls involving 2 068 requests for assistance were handled by the officers of the 1868 telephone hotline. Most requests related to loss of travel documents, hospitalisation, accidents or death outside Hong Kong. In addition, the Department has set up an emergency reinforcement team so that more staff can be deployed to answer emergency calls and public enquiries if necessary, or be sent to the countries or places in question to provide prompt assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress.
To provide timely as well as professional guidance and assistance to Chinese citizens in distress overseas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) set up the Global Emergency Call Center for Consular Protection and Services and launched the 24-hour hotline 12308 in September 2014. The MFA emergency call centre will, according to the circumstances and needs of individual cases, refer the relevant assistance requests from Hong Kong residents to the AHU for follow up.
Major incidents outside Hong Kong
In 2014, several major incidents involving Hong Kong residents occurred outside Hong Kong including the disappearance of a China-bound flight of Malaysia Airlines (March); large-scale demonstrations and riots in various parts of Vietnam (May); the imposition of martial law in Thailand (May); the crash of a Malaysia Airlines flight in Ukraine (July); and a traffic accident in Spain involving a Hong Kong tour group (October). The AHU worked closely with the OCMFA, the relevant CDCMs and other government departments to provide all practical assistance to Hong Kong residents and their family members affected in these incidents.
Registration of Outbound Travel Information (ROTI)
Hong Kong residents can register their contact details and itineraries outside Hong Kong before setting out on their trips via the ROTI service. The information provided can help the AHU to contact and help Hong Kong residents in the event of an emergency outside Hong Kong. ROTI registrants will receive updates on Outbound Travel Alerts (OTAs) and related public information via MyGovHK and, depending on the situation, via SMS on a mobile phone as well. As at the end of 2014, a total of 40 661 Hong Kong residents had registered for the service.
The Civil Celebrants of Marriages Scheme was launched on March 13, 2006. As at the end of 2014, a total of 1 996 civil celebrants had been appointed. They have so far given a total of 205 207 marriage notices, representing 41.6 per cent of total applications, while 204 339 marriages have been solemnised by them, representing 43.9 per cent 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.
In 2014, a total of 38 Immigration Officers and 136 Immigration Assistants were appointed, of which all of the Immigration Officers and 54 Immigration Assistants have already joined the workforce after induction training. To meet demand for manpower resources, new rounds of open recruitment for Immigration Assistants and Immigration Officers were launched in February and April 2014 respectively. For Immigration Assistants, the appointment formalities for selected candidates will be concluded shortly and we anticipate further admitting about 60 new recruits in the first quarter of 2015. For Immigration Officers, the relevant selection procedures are now in progress. We expect to admit the first batch of about 25 new recruits in early 2015.
With advanced information technology, our efforts to strengthen service quality have gained wide recognition. The Hong Kong Immigration Mobile Application was awarded by the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association a Certificate of Merit in the Best Mobile Apps (Mobile Information) Award of the Hong Kong Information and Communications Technology Award 2014. The mobile application provides a convenient and easy-to-use platform for Hong Kong residents and visitors to obtain information on the estimated passenger waiting time status at major land boundary control points and other immigration service information.
In addition, in the 2014 Hong Kong International Airport Customer Service Excellence Programme organised by the Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Immigration Department was awarded the Best Customer Service Enhancement Award and one frontline staff of the Airport Control Point was also awarded the Individual Excellence Award, which showed that our efforts to provide quality services to the public continue to be recognised. Five members of the Department were commended in the Secretary for the Civil Service's Commendation Award in recognition of their consistently outstanding performance. Since the introduction of this award scheme in 2004, it was the 11th consecutive year that our officers were commended. Another two colleagues received The Ombudsman's Awards 2014 for Officers of Public Organisations, making 2014 the 16th consecutive year that our officers were awarded. In addition, the officer with the highest number of votes in the Most Courteous Immigration Control Officers organised annually by the Department was appointed by the Hong Kong Tourism Board as Hong Kong Courtesy Ambassador for promoting the courtesy value of the Department. In recognition of its contributions in practising social responsibility, the Department has been awarded the Caring Organisation Logo by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service in consecutive years since 2006. We shall continue to provide quality services with excellence and professionalism.
The Department will endeavour to implement the pilot scheme to attract the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents to return to Hong Kong and enhancement measures to the existing admission schemes in the second quarter of 2015.
Extension of Working Holiday Scheme to Austria
The Working Holiday Scheme was introduced in April 2001. It aims to facilitate cultural and educational exchange in order to strengthen bilateral relations between Hong Kong and participating countries. The Scheme will be extended to Austria with effect from March 2, 2015. Under the agreement, 100 quotas will be allotted annually to eligible applicants to stay for up to six months in Hong Kong for holiday and short-term employment. Hong Kong has already established the Scheme with a total of nine countries, namely New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, France and the United Kingdom. Participants are allowed to stay for up to 12 months in Hong Kong for holiday and to take up short-term employment during their stay.
Strengthening enforcement actions
The Department will maintain its efforts against parallel traders by strengthening interceptions at control points as well as the exchange of intelligence and collaboration with local and Mainland law enforcement agencies and take sustainable rigorous enforcement actions to crack down on illicit activities from time to time at different locations.
This year, the Department will continue to implement complementary immigration measures to tie in with the zero quota policy on Mainland pregnant women. The Department will enhance its examination of these visitors at various control points and spare no effort in combating intermediaries assisting them to give birth in Hong Kong.
In the light of the increasing trend of the number of non-ethnic Chinese illegal immigrants intercepted in recent months, the Department will continue to step up relevant enforcement actions.
Enhancement of control point facilities and commissioning of new control points
With regard to control point facilities, improvement works are being carried out in stages at the Lok Ma Chau Control Point passenger terminal. The first stage, which concerns the arrival facilities (southbound), was completed in April 2013. Improvement work on the second stage concerning the departure facilities (northbound) started in early May 2013. It is expected that the whole project will be completed by early 2015. By then, the number of e-Channels will be increased from 20 to 33. The number of traditional counters and e-Channels will be increased to 83 in total. In addition, the construction of two additional kiosks for private cars is scheduled to be completed in mid-2015.
Meanwhile, Phase 1 of the Midfield Expansion Project at Hong Kong International Airport will be completed by the end of 2015 to cope with the growth of air passenger traffic. In the coming few years, a number of new control points will be commissioned to further enhance the handling capacity for cross-boundary passengers. The Department will continue to provide efficient immigration services to the travelling public at these new control points upon their commissioning.
The Third Information Systems Strategy (ISS-3) Review
On the recommendation of the third Information Systems Strategy Review (ISS-3) in late 2010, the system design of the first ISS-3 project for the implementation of the New Information Technology Infrastructure was completed in mid-2014 and the two Data Centres came into operation in June and October 2014 respectively. The tendering process of the second ISS-3 project for the implementation of the New Immigration Control System was completed in November 2014 and related system design and development have commenced. The new system will cope with continuous passenger growth and tie in with the future needs and developments of all existing and new control points. Phased implementation of the new system is scheduled between early 2016 and early 2017.
Feasibility studies for the Implementation of the Next Generation Smart Identity Card System were completed in October 2014. We are explaining the details of the project to the Panel on Security of the Legislative Council (LegCo), following which funding approval from the Finance Committee of the LegCo will be sought. Feasibility studies for other recommendations under the ISS-3 Review are scheduled to be completed by late 2015.
The Director of Immigration, Mr Chan Kwok-ki (fourth right), chairs the Immigration Department's year-end review of 2014 today (February 12).
Mr Chan introduces the "Immigration Department Outbound Travel Safety Week".