3 July 2012
Three female Mainland post-graduate students who ran an unlicensed guesthouse were each sentenced to 120 hours' community service today (July 3) at the Shatin Magistrates' Court after being found guilty of breaching their condition of stay. Earlier, on June 19, the three defendants were each fined $3,000 for contravening section 5(1) of the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance.
On March 21, an undercover investigator from the Immigration Department met with two of the defendants by making the booking through the Internet and was led to an apartment in the Hung Hom area where the third defendant was waiting. After finding that the three defendants were permitted to remain in Hong Kong on student status only, they were apprehended on the spot by immigration officers for having breached their condition of stay.
Under caution, they admitted that they had rented the apartment for accommodation after arriving in Hong Kong to study for master's degrees in 2011. To subsidise their living costs, they set up a business providing accommodation to guests at a rate of HKD150 per night by advertising on the Internet. They shared the duties of arranging the advertising, collecting accommodation fees from the guests and greeting the guests.
According to the records of the Office of the Licensing Authority, Home Affairs Department, the guesthouse did not possess a valid certificate of exemption or a license under the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance. The three defendants were earlier charged with contravening section 5(1) of the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance. They were convicted and fined $3,000 each at the Shatin Magistrates' Court on June 19.
"Under the laws of Hong Kong, a person permitted to stay in Hong Kong as a student shall only study at a specified school, university or other educational institution and undertake such course of study as may be approved by the Director of Immigration. Such students are not allowed to take up employment, whether paid or unpaid, or establish or join in any business in Hong Kong, without the permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for two years," a government spokesman said.
"It is a criminal offence to operate or manage an unlicensed guesthouse. Any person who is convicted for operating an unlicensed guesthouse is liable to imprisonment. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a $200,000 fine and imprisonment for two years."