Twelve immigration offenders arrested

16 February 2016

The Immigration Department yesterday (February 15) mounted a territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint enforcement operation with the Hong Kong Police Force and the Home Affairs Department to combat illegal employment activities. A total of eight illegal workers and four suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided 10 target locations including restaurants, warehouses, a grocery store, a construction site and a refuse collection point. Six illegal workers comprising three men and three women aged 19 to 47 were arrested. Among them, one man was suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Three women aged 49 to 59 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During the joint operation, enforcement officers raided two boarding houses in Tsim Sha Tsui. Two illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested. The illegal workers comprised two men aged 22 and 32. One of them was a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits him from taking any employment. One man aged 45 was 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 warned that it is an offence to use or possess a forged Hong Kong identity card or a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. Offenders are liable to prosecution and a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years' imprisonment.

The spokesman 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.