Immigration Department Annual Report 2013
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With the concerted efforts of all the staff members, the Department marched forward in 2013 and achieved breakthrough in various fronts, highlighting our professionalism, alertness and innovative endeavours in a wide range of policies and facilities.

Hong Kong is an international trade and tourism hub. The number of arriving and departing passengers reached a record high of over 277 million in 2013. Among these passengers, the total number of visitor arrivals reached 54.3 million, representing a 12 per cent increase compared to 2012. The Department adopted various innovative measures to further enhance the handling capacity and efficiency, including the implementation of non-stamping immigration clearance arrangement, expansion of e-Channel service target group, launching of Immigration Mobile Application, enhancement of control point facilities, etc. With a view to providing greater travel convenience to Hong Kong residents and other travellers, the Department also implemented the mutual use of automated immigration clearance service with the Republic of Korea at the end of 2013, and is actively discussing similar arrangement with some European and Asian countries. To tie in with the introduction of the electronic Exit-Entry Permit for travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao (e-EEP) by the Mainland authorities, we will extend the e-Channel service to eligible e-EEP holders in a timely manner. The Department has also planned to upgrade over 400 existing e-Channels to multi-purpose e-Channels and install more than 100 additional multi-purpose e-Channels, catering for flexible deployment to facilitate Hong Kong residents and other travellers. With the commissioning of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in mid-2013 and new control points in the coming years, the pressure at existing control points will be eased.

The Department strives to seek more travel convenience for Hong Kong residents. As at 31 March 2014, a total of 150 countries and territories have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to holders of HKSAR passports. We also provide speedy and practical assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong. The Immigration Division of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Chengdu of the Government of the HKSAR commenced operation in October 2013 to strengthen the support services in the surrounding regions.

Dedicated to service excellence, we have further enhanced our performance pledge in 2014. For example, the standard processing time at counter for registration of Hong Kong identity card has been shortened from 75 minutes to 60 minutes (applicable to 95 per cent of the applications). With the relocation of the West Kowloon Office and the Kowloon Births Registry to Kimberley Street, Tsim Sha Tsui in January 2014, the handling capacity of the office for processing travel document applications has increased by almost 60 per cent. In addition, we have introduced the first e-Channel with voice navigation function in the world for visually impaired persons and adopted the web accessibility design in our Department’s homepage. All the above enhancements showcase our care and compassion to the public and our pursuit of excellence.

In 2013, Hong Kong established bilateral Working Holiday Schemes with France and the United Kingdom, facilitating cultural and educational exchange. In the same year, the visa-free period for nationals of Croatia to visit Hong Kong has been extended from 14 to 90 days. We will keep pace with the ever-changing environment, assimilate and realign our visa policies and procedures, implement various schemes to attract talents and professionals so as to uphold Hong Kong’s strength as an international financial and trade centre as well as a regional education hub.

Hong Kong is a convenient international maritime and aviation centre. The Department has stayed vigilant against clandestine migration activities and worked closely with local, Mainland and overseas law enforcement agencies to combat transnational illegal migration and forgery. Moreover, we exchange intelligence and monitor the latest trends on illegal migrants and modus operandi adopted by human smuggling syndicates. In 2013, operations codenamed 'Bowstring', 'Ringcracker', 'Sandstorm', etc. were conducted, in which we successfully neutralised a human smuggling and a forgery syndicate. We also smashed a syndicate which arranged Hong Kong residents to contract bogus marriages with Mainland residents. We continued to take tough and effective law enforcement actions against illegal employment to protect the local labour market. A series of joint operations codenamed ‘Windsand’ were conducted to deter parallel trading activities. The Department will remain proactive in combating and preventing immigration-related offences.

Pursuant to the Court of Final Appeal judgments in relevant judicial review cases, we introduced a unified screening mechanism (USM) on 3 March 2014 for non-refoulement claims on all applicable grounds including alleged risks of being subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishments, and / or persecution in one-go. The USM is based on the established procedures of the relevant statutory mechanism to meet the ‘high standards of fairness’ required by the law.

In terms of information technology, our e-Channel was awarded by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers as one of the top ten in the Hong Kong People Engineering Wonders in the 21st Century. The Cross-boundary Students Clearance System also won the Bronze Award of the Best Public Service Application (Transformation) under the Hong Kong Information and Communications Technology Awards 2013. In order to align with the long-term development of the Department, we will continue to implement the third Information Systems Strategy, incorporating state-of-the-art technologies to enhance the security and the services we provide and striving for excellence to meet the rising expectations of the public.

The Department places great importance on the mutual communication with frontline officers. The management regularly explains new policies and development of the Department to our colleagues, and also collects feedback through various communication channels from staff at all ranks. We work hard to promote caring management in the Department and strengthen the sense of belonging as well as esprit de corps. In the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme 2013 organised by the Civil Service Bureau, the Department was awarded the Team Award (General Public Service) Special Citation (Integrity Management) in recognition of our integrity management practices. Four members of the Department were commended in the Secretary for the Civil Service’s Commendation Award while another two colleagues received The Ombudsman’s Awards 2013 for Officers of Public Organisations. In recognition of our contributions in practising social responsibility, the Department has been awarded the Caring Organisation Logo by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service consecutively since 2006 and was included in the newly introduced List of Barrier-free Companies / Organisations in 2013/14 for our proactive support in barrier-free environment and culture.

The Immigration Department attaches equal importance to our duties of law enforcement and service provision, contributing to the safety and stability of Hong Kong on the one hand and strengthening its competitiveness on the other. We will continue to serve the public with integrity, dedication and professionalism to pursue our vision, mission and values. We will also keep up with the policies of our country and the HKSAR Government to contribute to the long-term development of Hong Kong.

Director of Immigration
Chan Kwok-ki, Eric