Immigration Department combats use of false instruments in visa applications

6 Jun 2017

The Immigration Department (ImmD) today (June 6) laid a holding charge against a female, aged 43, at Shatin Magistrates' Courts involving nine counts of using a false instrument and seven counts of causing to be made a false statement for the purpose of obtaining visas/entry permits. The defendant was immediately remanded in custody and the case will be adjourned to July 4.

The ImmD has always been concerned about cases in which unscrupulous intermediaries seek to obtain Hong Kong visas for applicants by illegal means. Information was received earlier by the ImmD alleging that an intermediary was suspected of furnishing false information and false instruments during visa/entry permit applications. After active investigation and analysis, ImmD investigators conducted an operation on June 4, during which an agent was arrested and detained. Further investigation and evidence gathering were conducted.

Initial investigation indicated that nine working visa/entry permit applications of persons with different nationalities were suspected to be involved, of which five had already been refused or withdrawn. Of the other four approved applications, two applicants had subsequently terminated their employment and departed Hong Kong. The remaining two applicants obtained the visas about a year ago. None of the cases were involved in applications for extension of stay or right of abode. If investigation indicates that the applicant has used false instruments to obtain the visa/entry permit, the permit will become void and the ImmD will initiate prosecution against them. The likelihood of further arrests cannot be ruled out.

The ImmD has all along been assessing applications for visas/entry permits in a rigorous manner. In assessing each application, the ImmD will consider whether the applicant meets the specific eligibility criteria under the relevant admission scheme/arrangement and general immigration requirements, and will take into account the individual circumstances of each application so as to ensure that only applicants who meet the relevant immigration policies will be admitted. Moreover, in processing applications for verification of eligibility for a permanent identity card, the ImmD will, in accordance with the relevant laws, consider the individual circumstances of each application. If any applications are found to be fraudulent, the ImmD will immediately conduct an investigation, or refer the case to the relevant law enforcement agencies for follow-up action when necessary.

Under the prevailing laws, it is an offence to make, possess or use false instruments. Upon conviction, offenders are liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment. In addition, any applicants and/or employing companies furnishing false information to the ImmD in their visa/entry permit applications or making false statement or representation to immigration officers commit an offence. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction are subject to a maximum penalty of a fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years. Aiders and abettors will also be prosecuted.

The ImmD urges applicants not to defy the law and be misled into believing that employment or residence can be obtained by fraudulent means or false information. The ImmD reiterates that should any person be found to have obtained their employment visa or residence status in Hong Kong by fraudulent means, such a visa or residence status will be declared invalid according to the laws of Hong Kong and they will be subject to criminal liability. They will also be subject to removal back to their place of origin.

If any person is aware of suspected offences, he or she should report it to the ImmD via the 24-hour hotline on 2824 1551, by fax on 2824 1166, by email to anti_crime@immd.gov.hk or through the Online Reporting of Immigration Offences system on the ImmD's website at www.immd.gov.hk.