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In 2014, the Immigration Department continued to serve the public with excellence and exercise effective enforcement actions, which contributed to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

The number of passengers passing through our control points continued to increase in 2014, reaching over 290 million. Among these passengers, a total of 60.8 million visitor arrivals were recorded. We will continue to flexibly deploy our manpower in accordance with the actual situation, as well as to implement various measures to cope with the ever-increasing workload at control points. These measures to enhance control points’ capacity include improvement works, flexible passenger flow management, developing new information systems, extension of e-Channel service, enhancing the workflow for immigration clearance and stepping up publicity efforts.

We are dedicated to providing more facilitation to passengers on their visits to Hong Kong. At the same time, we spare no effort in striving for more travel convenience for HKSAR passport holders. We continue to lobby for visa-free access or visa-on-arrival arrangement for HKSAR passport holders. As at 31 March 2015, the number of countries and territories that we had successfully lobbied reached 151. Following the implementation of mutual use of automated immigration clearance services with the Republic of Korea in December 2013, similar arrangements were also implemented with the Republic of Singapore and the Federal Republic of Germany in September and November 2014 respectively. The Department is now discussing similar arrangements with the Australian authorities. We believe that such arrangements will allow greater travel convenience for people in Hong Kong and our partner economies, which in turn will enhance economic, social and cultural ties.

In order to further enhance our service standard, starting from 2 January 2014, the standard processing time at counter for registration for Hong Kong identity card was shortened. After the relocation of the West Kowloon Office and Kowloon Births Registry to Kimberley Street, Tsim Sha Tsui, the handling capacity of the office for processing travel document applications increased by almost 60%. In addition to having more service counters, the new offices are equipped with baby-care rooms and barrier-free facilities for those in need. The Registration of Persons - Kwun Tong Office was relocated to Manulife Financial Centre, Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong on 22 April of the same year. To provide a better understanding of the development of registration of persons services to members of the public, a picture arcade was set up in the new office depicting the scope of services provided by the Registration of Persons Offices over the years as well as various generations of Hong Kong identity cards issued. Besides, the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit of the Department continued to work closely with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the HKSAR, the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions overseas, HKSAR offices outside Hong Kong and other government departments for providing practical assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong in 2014.

In terms of law enforcement, the Department made concerted efforts to combat immigration-related offences involving illegal employment, parallel trading activities, Mainland pregnant women coming to Hong Kong for confinement by illegal means, bogus marriages, etc. The Department has for years worked with overseas, Mainland and local law enforcement agencies to combat global illegal migration and document fraud. In January 2015, a joint operation codenamed ‘Firenet’ was conducted by the Department and the Mainland law enforcement agencies where an active cross-boundary human smuggling syndicate specialising in arranging Vietnamese nationals to seek illegal entry into Hong Kong was neutralised.

The unified screening mechanism (USM) commenced operation on 3 March 2014. The procedures of the USM follow those for the statutory torture claim screening mechanism to ensure that they meet the high standards of fairness required by the Court, and at the same time to reduce the chance of the system being abused by economic migrants who want to protract their illegal presence in Hong Kong.

In the second quarter of 2015, the Department implemented the series of measures announced by the Chief Executive in the Policy Address to attract talent from outside Hong Kong to complement local workforce and facilitate the economic development of Hong Kong. The measures included implementing a pilot scheme to attract the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents who have emigrated overseas to return to Hong Kong. In addition, the existing admission schemes were enhanced to attract professionals, talent and entrepreneurs to come and stay in Hong Kong. We will step up the promotion of the various schemes and work closely with the overseas Economic and Trade Offices and the Mainland Offices of the HKSAR Government to attract more talent with excellent academic qualifications and international work experience. The admission of these people to Hong Kong will in turn improve the quality of our population and competitiveness.

The Department has all along been utilising top-notch technology to enhance the working efficiency and provide the necessary support for us to face new challenges. To tie in with the introduction of the card-type electronic Exit-Entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao (e-EEP) by the Mainland authorities in May 2014, the Department has enhanced the e-Channel system for the use of eligible e-EEP holders. These e-EEP holders may use the e-Channel service after successful completion of arrival clearance at traditional counters upon their first visit to the HKSAR with the e-EEP. We also continue to take forward the third Information Systems Strategy Review recommendations. Among others, the feasibility studies for the implementation of the Next Generation Smart Identity Card System and the Next Generation Electronic Passport System were both completed in October 2014. Besides, the system design and development of the New Immigration Control System are in progress and the phased implementation of the new system is scheduled between early 2016 and early 2017.

‘Care and Cohesion’ is one of the values of the Department. We spare no effort in enhancing the mutual communication between the management and frontline staff. We also promote the importance of emotional wellness and work-life balance among our staff. Appropriate training programmes and development plans are arranged for staff at all levels to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills to meet challenges. Last year, the Department was awarded the status of Manpower Developer by the Employee Retraining Board in recognition of our outstanding achievements in manpower training and development. The efforts made by our staff to provide excellent service were also recognised by the public. In the 2014 Hong Kong International Airport Customer Service Excellence Programme organised by the Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Department was awarded the Best Customer Service Enhancement Award. In addition, five members of the Department were commended in the Secretary for the Civil Service's Commendation Award in recognition of their consistently outstanding performance. Another two members received The Ombudsman's Awards 2014 for Officers of Public Organisations.

With the concerted efforts, professionalism and commitment of our staff, the Department has delivered quality services and effective enforcement over the years. All of us are determined to strive for excellence and committed to the delivery of people-oriented services. We will continue to forge ahead with our vision to be the foremost immigration service in the world in effectiveness and efficiency.

Director of Immigration
Chan Kwok-ki, Eric