28 August 2016
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is very concerned about the surge in the number of Pakistani and Bengali illegal immigrants being smuggled into Hong Kong in recent years. There is also a trend of Pakistani and Bengali illegal immigrants lodging claims for non-refoulement protection to resist removal immediately after being arrested or surrendered, which constitutes a serious abuse of Hong Kong's non-refoulement screening mechanism.
In view of the above, a delegation headed by Assistant Director of Immigration Mr Fung Ngai-wa and comprising officers from the Immigration Department (ImmD) will depart today (August 28) for a duty visit to Pakistan and Bangladesh. The purposes of the visit are to introduce to the relevant Pakistani and Bengali authorities the stringent legislative provisions in Hong Kong against illegal employment and human trafficking, the objectives of the Unified Screening Mechanism, and to explore co-operation with the Pakistani and Bengali authorities on intelligence gathering and liaison on enforcement.
ImmD reiterates 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 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.