The Department experienced another challenging year in 2012. With the ever increasing workload, all staff members forged ahead with professionalism, dedication and commitment all the time and successfully completed each and every difficult task.

Hong Kong is an international financial, trade, tourism and transportation hub. The number of passengers coming to Hong Kong has always been on the rise, recording over 267 million arrivals and departures in 2012. In order to further increase passenger handling capacity as well as clearance efficiency, the Department has adopted a multi-pronged approach. Since January 2012, the e-Channel service has been extended to enrolled Mainland frequent visitors. Improvement works are being carried out at Lok Ma Chau and Man Kam To Control Points to enhance capacity. Simplified clearance procedure for cross-boundary students has been introduced and on-board clearance service extended to enhance the overall convenience and safety for cross-boundary students in response to their fast-growing needs in the new school year. The introduction of non-stamping immigration clearance arrangement for visitors in the first quarter of 2013 will provide more efficient services to visitors and facilitate smooth passenger flow at control points.

We also endeavour to facilitate visitors coming to Hong Kong. With effect from September 1, 2012, eligible Taiwan residents may submit pre-arrival registration using the e-Service platform on the GovHK website free of charge. This service has been well received by Taiwan visitors since it was launched. The Department will continue to provide smooth and effective immigration services to maintain Hong Kong’s status as an international trade and tourism hub.

The Department always takes proactive measures to prevent and detect immigration-related offences. We maintain close contact and collaboration with local and non-local law enforcement agencies around the world in combating clandestine illegal migration, forgery and other immigration-related crimes. Various anti-illegal worker and anti-illegal migration operations were conducted in 2012. In order to fully complement the ‘zero quota’ policy on non-local pregnant women adopted by the Government, we enhanced examination of these visitors at various control points and cracked down on intermediaries assisting them to give birth in Hong Kong. The Department also made concerted efforts to combat offences involving parallel trade activities. Since September 2012, the Department has stepped up enforcement actions by mounting a series of anti-illegal worker operations codenamed ‘Windsand’, resulting in the arrest of a number of visitors and local employers for breach of conditions of stay with suspected involvement in parallel goods trading and for suspected employment of illegal workers. Special operation teams at control points also conducted spot checks on arriving visitors who were suspected of being parallel traders. The Department will maintain its efforts against these illicit activities through rigorous enforcement actions to be conducted from time to time at different locations.

In regard to torture claims, the Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance 2012, which underpins the enhanced administrative mechanism for screening, was passed by the Legislative Council in July 2012 and came into operation on December 3, 2012, putting in place statutory procedures for handling torture claims. The Department believes that the statutory mechanism will help reduce procedural abuse while maintaining high standards of fairness.

To cope with the increasing workload, we have been working on a number of initiatives and making good use of state-of-the-art technology by developing and upgrading various electronic systems to enhance service quality and efficiency. The Department introduced a new electronic form on February 24, 2012. By using this form, members of the public may complete and submit the information required online while making an appointment for birth registration via the e-Service platform. In the same year, the Registration of Outbound Travel Information service was enhanced. Registrants may choose to enter their overseas mobile phone number and receive SMS on the latest Outbound Travel Alerts and related public information via that number. Aiming at enhancing clearance efficiency and service quality to cope with continuous passenger growth and to tie in with the future needs and developments of all control points, the New Immigration Control Point System will incorporate more automated process including facial recognition technology, self-service departure e-Channels, etc. It is targeted to be implemented by phases from the end of 2015.

The dedicated service and excellent performance of our staff are recognised by the Government and the public. In 2012, six members of the Department were commended in the Secretary for the Civil Service’s Commendation Award Scheme. Two colleagues received The Ombudsman’s Awards for Officers of Public Organisations. A staff member won an Individual Award in the Hong Kong International Airport Customer Service Excellence Programme organised by the Airport Authority Hong Kong. In addition, the officer with the highest number of votes for the Most Courteous Immigration Control Officers election campaign organised by the Department was appointed by the Hong Kong Tourism Board as Hong Kong Courtesy Ambassador. In recognition of its contributions in assuming social responsibility, the Department had been awarded the Caring Organisation Logo by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service for the sixth consecutive year and our Volunteer Work Team had also received the Gold Award for Volunteer Service from the Volunteer-in-Chief and the Director of Social Welfare.

In the next few years, a number of new immigration facilities will be completed, including those at the new cruise terminal at Kai Tak (opening in mid-2013), the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The Department will actively work for the development of new facilities and continue to provide efficient immigration services to the travelling public.

The increasing workload of the Immigration Department reflects the prosperity of Hong Kong. We will always strive for excellence and adhere to the people-oriented value. We will continue to serve the public and visitors with dedication and professionalism so as to help maintain Hong Kong’s status as one of the most prosperous and safest cities in the world.

Director of Immigration
Chan Kwok-ki, Eric