Fifteen immigration offenders arrested

7 September 2016

The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations codenamed "Twilight" on September 5 and 6 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of nine illegal workers and six suspected employers were arrested.

ImmD Task Force officers raided different target locations including restaurants, a bar, a vegetable stall, a stall and a residential flat. Nine illegal workers and six employers were arrested. The nine illegal workers comprised five men and four women aged 28 to 61. Among them, one man and one woman were holders of a recognisance form, which prohibits them from taking any employment. Two men and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. Meanwhile, one man and five women aged 30 to 55 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

"Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of them shall be guilty of an offence. Also, visitors are not allowed to take 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 ImmD spokesman said.

The spokesman warned that, as stipulated in section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order are prohibited from taking any employment, whether paid or unpaid, or establishing or joining in any business. Offenders are liable upon conviction 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.