Immigration Department Annual Report 2015
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Information Systems Branch

The Information Systems Branch is headed by an Assistant Director. It handles all matters concerning development and operation of information systems, records management and personal data privacy of the Department.

To cope with the ever changing social and economic environment, the Department has been proactively formulating its information systems strategy to keep pace with the digital era of the 21st century and has been exploring the advanced technologies for delivering efficient and quality services to the public, whilst ensuring the business processes and practices are compliant with the provisions of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

Organisation Chart of the Information Systems Branch

The Information Systems Branch comprises four divisions and is tasked to take charge of the information systems and related matters of the Department. The Information Systems (Development) Division is responsible for formulating and implementing the Department’s information systems strategy, developing new information systems to meet the future business needs. The Information Systems (Production) Division is responsible for management and security of information systems in operation as well as on-going enhancement of the information systems and related processes. The Records and Data Management Division is responsible for all issues relating to data privacy, access to information and management of departmental records. The Technology Services Division provides technical support for the maintenance and development of information systems in the Department. The former three divisions are each headed by a Principal Immigration Officer while the Technology Services Division is under the charge of a Chief Systems Manager.

Systems in Operation

Automated Passenger and Vehicle Clearance Systems (e-Channel)

Hong Kong residents holding smart identity cards enjoy the convenience of e-Channel at control points.

The e-Channel is an automated system integrated with various technologies and unique business process to enable transformation of the traditional ‘one-officer-one-counter / kiosk’ clearance to self-service immigration clearance. By leveraging the smart identity card and biometric verification technologies, e-Channel service was first rolled out at control points in December 2004 for use by Hong Kong permanent residents. After implementation of the e-Channels, savings have been realised for redeployment to other areas of more pressing needs. In January 2006, after the enactment of Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance 2005, e-Channel service was extended to Hong Kong residents holding Document of Identity for Visa Purposes and in September 2006 to those who have the right to land or are on unconditional stay as well as non-permanent residents who have been issued with a notification label. Eligible Hong Kong residents who are aged 11 or over holding a smart identity card may perform self-service immigration clearance via the e-Channel.

In December 2007, the e-Channel service at the Lo Wu Control Point was extended to cross boundary primary school students under the age of 11. To provide greater convenience for cross-boundary students to enrol for e-Channel service, the enrolment system was enhanced in October 2014. Besides, the cross-boundary student e-Channel service was extended to the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point in May 2015. At present, there are six designated e-Channels for cross-boundary students at the Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Points each.

In May 2008, the e-Channel service at the Airport was extended to frequent visitors aged 18 or above holding HKSAR Travel Pass, Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Business Travel Card with the economy code 'HKG' or Hong Kong International Airport Frequent Visitor Card. The e-Channel service was extended to eligible members of frequent flyer programmes of various airlines with effect from 7 September 2009. From late April 2012, frequent visitors holding a valid travel document who do not require an entry visa / permit for entering Hong Kong, who have made visits to Hong Kong by air via the Hong Kong International Airport not less than three times within the past 12 months immediately before enrolment, and who have no adverse record in Hong Kong may enrol for e-Channel service at the enrolment office in the Airport. The e-Channel service for these enrolled frequent visitors has been extended to the Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To, Lok Ma Chau, China Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal and Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Control Points.

To enhance the travel convenience between Hong Kong and Macao, from 10 December 2009 onwards, enrolled Macao permanent residents can use the e-Channels installed at the Macau Ferry Terminal and the China Ferry Terminal. The service was extended to Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal in July 2011. At present, enrolled Macao permanent residents may also use the e-Channel service at the Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To, Lok Ma Chau, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Airport Control Points. Besides, eligible Hong Kong residents can use the Macao Automated Passenger Clearance System (i.e. autogates) at control points in Macao.

Express e-Channels at the Lo Wu Control Point

In March 2009, the Express e-Channel pilot scheme was introduced at the Lo Wu Control Point to provide faster e-Channel service to enrolled Hong Kong residents aged 18 or above who are existing e-Channel users. At present, there are 30 Express e-Channels at the Lo Wu Control Point.



The Department keeps on expanding the e-Channel service target group which allows more passengers to enjoy convenient immigration clearance service.

Starting from 5 December 2011, eligible Mainland frequent visitors holding booklet-type Exit-Entry Permit for travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao (EEP) may enrol for e-Channel service. Enrolled Mainland frequent visitors may use e-Channels at the Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Points with effect from 3 January 2012. The service was extended to the Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To, Lok Ma Chau, China Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Airport Control Points by stages. To tie in with the introduction of card-type electronic EEP by the Mainland authorities, eligible Mainland visitors holding card-type EEP can also enjoy the e-Channel service at these control points starting from 20 May 2014.

As at the end of December 2015, a total of 123 e-Channels were installed for enrolled visitors and around 973,000 Mainland visitors holding booklet-type EEP and 442,000 other frequent visitors had successfully enrolled for the service.

e-Channel with voice navigation function facilitates visually impaired persons to perform self-service clearance.

On 19 September 2013, the Department launched the first e-Channel with voice navigation function in the world for the visually impaired persons to perform self-service clearance at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point. The service was also extended to the Macau Ferry Terminal and Shenzhen Bay Control Points in 2014 and 2015 respectively. To use the service, the persons should first press the activation button at the entrance of the e-Channel to initiate the voice navigation function and voice instructions would be delivered to guide them to complete the clearance process.


Under the arrangement on the use of automated clearance service on a mutual basis, eligible HKSAR passport holders are able to enrol for the automated clearance service of the participating countries / territories, whilst eligible passport holders of the participating countries / territories are also able to enrol for the e-Channel service in Hong Kong at the same time. To facilitate the implementation of the use of automated immigration clearance services on a mutual basis with different countries / territories, the enrolment system of the e-Channel has been enhanced to include a new online pre-enrolment service running on the existing electronic service platform when implementing the arrangement with the Republic of Korea in December 2013 and to allow eligible passport holders of the participating counties / territories to enrol for the e-Channel service in Hong Kong under different enrolment criteria. 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 actively discussing with other countries / territories on the mutual use of automated immigration clearance service and it is expected that more countries / territories will become our partners.

Starting from September 2015, enrolled Consular Corps Identity Card holders may perform self-service immigration clearance via the e-Channel at the Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To, Lok Ma Chau, China Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Airport Control Points.

Entry / Exit Processing and Records System (EXPRESS)

The EXPRESS is an online information system, which provides efficient and reliable computer service to facilitate speedy clearance of passengers at control points. It also maintains travel records for enquiry purpose.

Officers at control point using the Portable Clearance Devices to perform immigration clearance for enrolled cross-boundary students.

Starting from late August 2012, simplified clearance procedure for cross-boundary students had been implemented by phases at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay, Lok Ma Chau, Sha Tau Kok, Man Kam To and Lo Wu Control Points. With the use of Portable Clearance Devices, more effective and expeditious immigration clearance service was provided to the enrolled cross-boundary students.

Deployment Information and Command System (DICS)

With the help of advanced information systems, staff at control points can perform daily duties more efficiently.

Comprising closed circuit television, immigration clearance statistics and counter assignment information, the DICS strengthens the operational efficiency of control points and facilitates the management to monitor the traffic situation real time for flexible deployment of staff.

Face Recognition System (FACES)

The FACES is effective in detecting people who attempt to circumvent immigration control by using different identities. The system facilitates the work of officers at control points, investigation offices and visa-control offices to verify the identity of suspected passengers, immigration offenders and visa applicants.

Smart Identity Card System (SMARTICS)

The Smart Identity Card System employs state-of-the-art technologies in production.

The SMARTICS is an on-line information system that supports the whole process of smart identity card production, from appointment booking, registration, production to issue of smart identity cards. The system laid the foundation for the introduction of Automated Passenger Clearance System and Automated Vehicle Clearance System. Besides, the card also supports other non-immigration functions, such as library card and storage of e-Certificate, thus promoting e-Government and e-Commerce.

Electronic Passport (e-Passport) System

The e-Passport System supports one-stop-shop passport application service, including appointment booking, application processing, and issuance of travel documents. By adopting the latest information technology, it achieves a paperless working environment and produces electronic passports with more advanced security features. Starting from 29 December 2011, eligible applicants aged 11 to 17 can also submit their passport applications through self-service kiosks at the Immigration Headquarters. A total of 19 self-service kiosks are installed at the Immigration Headquarters and immigration branch offices.

Application and Investigation Easy System (APPLIES) and Electronic Records Programme (ERP)

Case processing becomes more effective with the APPLIES.

APPLIES is an on-line information system for processing applications for visas, permits, travel passes, registration matters relating to births, deaths, marriage and investigation cases. Following the full implementation of APPLIES in December 2008, electronic records can be stored and retrieved via computer workstations. Through the new electronic records and document management systems, there has been service improvement in processing applications and registration matters mentioned above. By adopting advanced technologies and designs, the system is able to handle and maintain operational and administrative records in an efficient and paperless manner. With the interface with the new Electronic Services System, the public can enjoy e-Services, including booking of appointments and submission of applications through the Internet.

Pre-arrival Registration for Taiwan Residents

The Pre-arrival Registration for Taiwan Residents was implemented on 1 September 2012 to facilitate eligible Taiwan residents to submit Pre-arrival Registration electronically through the Internet free of charge and directly without going through airlines in Taiwan. The application result will also be displayed instantly. It further enhances the travel convenience of Taiwan residents visiting Hong Kong.

Travel Pass Issuing System

The Travel Pass Issuing System supports the issue of Travel Pass to frequent visitors to Hong Kong. The information on the machine-readable Travel Pass is captured through optical character recognition readers and holders can enjoy speedy immigration clearance at the ‘Hong Kong Residents’ counters at control points.

Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Business Travel Card Issuing System

HKSAR Travel Pass holder and APEC business travel card holder are able to enroll for using e-Channel service.

Hong Kong has participated in the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme since 29 May 1998. By making use of the Electronic Data Interchange System, the Scheme facilitates pre-cleared entry of accredited business people to the participating economies of the Asia-Pacific region. Business travel card holders coming to Hong Kong can use the 'Hong Kong Residents' counters at control points for immigration clearance.

Government Office Automation (GOA) System

The GOA System enables speedy communication and dissemination of information through electronic means within the Department as well as among bureaux and departments of the HKSAR Government.

Government-to-Employee (G2E) Applications

The e-Leave application is the first government-to-employee project. All staff members of the Department can access the web-based application to process their leave applications as well as calculate and keep track of leave records through any networked computer workstation in the Department.

Operations and Administration Support Information System (OASIS)

The OASIS is an online information system which aims at enhancing productivity in operational and administrative areas. It facilitates management of information relating to personnel, stores and inventory. It also supports electronic compilation of duty roster and improves efficiency of staff deployment at control points.

Electronic Records (Administrative) System (e-Records(Adm))

The e-Records (Adm) System helps our staff improve efficiency in handling administrative records in the Department.

The e-Records (Adm) System is an electronic records and document management system developed under the Electronic Records Programme. Leveraging advanced information technology and making use of GOA workstations and scanners, the system aims to improve efficiency in handling administrative records in the Department. Since April 2008, all staff of the Department can use the system to handle administrative records.



Intranet

The Intranet Portal Frontpage

The Intranet provides an electronic channel for fast dissemination of multi-media information; enhances communications among staff; and acts as a platform for online computer-based training within the Department. In 2015, the number of visits to the Intranet Portal was around 2.5 million, with a daily average of around 7,000 visits.


Immigration Department's Homepage

To better serve the public, the Department has set up its own homepage since 31 May 1996. Internet users not only can browse the latest information of the Department on the homepage, but also access websites of related government departments / organisations via the hyperlinks provided. After the revamp of the homepage on 10 March 2015, the public can access the information more easily.

Data Warehousing Information System (DWIS)

The DWIS improves the provision of various statistical analyses that facilitate the management in decision making and resources planning.

Mobile Applications (Mobile App)

Hong Kong Immigration Mobile Application

On 5 December 2013, the Department launched the Hong Kong Immigration Mobile Application to facilitate Hong Kong residents and visitors to obtain information of the estimated passenger waiting time at all land boundary control points and other information such as office hours of all immigration offices anytime. The estimated passenger waiting time assessment is updated about every 15 minutes. It aims to serve as a reference for Hong Kong residents and visitors to choose the land boundary control point and the time to travel at their convenience. The Department has continued to enhance the Application, such as the inclusion of ‘Outbound Travel Tips’ to provide Hong Kong residents with tips when travelling abroad. As at 31 December 2015, around 111,000 downloads were recorded.

Records and Data Management

The Department attaches great importance to personal data privacy and records management and is committed to ensuring that business processes and practices and the handling of all personal data and records are in accordance with the provisions of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, relevant laws, regulations and guidelines. Departmental policies, guidelines and procedures on personal data protection and records management are set out, regularly reviewed and updated to ensure staff compliance in proper handling of personal data and management of records. To further enhance the protection of personal data privacy and records management, the Department has implemented the Privacy Management Programme. The Privacy Compliance Group has also been formed to monitor the Department’s overall privacy compliance situation and review the related programme controls. Moreover, training sessions, seminars and workshops are conducted to cultivate a privacy respectful culture by enhancing staff awareness in personal data privacy protection and good records management as well as staff competence in handling data access requests and access to information applications.

Electronic Services

The Department provides various electronic services which have been well received by the public.

New electronic services have been implemented by phases at GovHK website since 30 October 2007. Up to 31 December 2015, members of the public and other users can access the following electronic services via the GovHK website:

Electronic Submission

Since 2000, the Department has been accepting electronic information sent by members of the public in specified format, manner and procedures requesting immigration services in accordance with the provisions of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance. Examples are provision of prescribed particulars of crew and passengers by an aircraft captain under the Immigration Ordinance and making a request for the Certificate of Registrar of Marriage for marriage to be solemnised in church under the Marriage Ordinance. Details can be found at the Department's homepage: www.immd.gov.hk.

Electronic Forms

Apart from accepting applications submitted by applicants in person or by post, the Department has devised electronic forms for the public to fill in and submit through the Internet for the following purposes:

These electronic forms can be downloaded from the Department’s homepage.

Implementation of the Third Information Systems Strategy (ISS-3)

To improve its service quality, the Department commissioned a consultant to conduct the third Information Systems Strategy (ISS-3) Review in March 2010 with a view to formulating a long-term information systems strategy. The Review recommended the Department to implement the following separate but inter-related systems to enhance its service quality and capacity to meet the challenging business requirements in the coming years.

  1. New IT Infrastructure (ITI);
  2. Immigration Control System (ICONS);
  3. Next Generation Smart Identity Card System (SMARTICS-2);
  4. Next Generation Electronic Passport System (e-Passport-2);
  5. Visa Automation System (VISAS);
  6. Assistance to Hong Kong Residents, Births, Deaths & Marriage, Right of Abode Decision Support System (ABROADS);
  7. Enforcement Case Processing System (ENCAPS); and
  8. Human Resources Management System (HRMS).

To take forward the ISS-3 recommendations, the two Data Centres under the ITI project have commenced operation since June and October 2014 respectively while other initiatives have also been rolled out by phases since March 2015. For the project of the ICONS, the system design was completed in mid-2015. The project is now under system development and the new system will be implemented by phases starting from early 2016. The first phase will include the upgrade of over 430 existing e-Channels to multi-purpose e-Channels and the introduction of over 150 new multi-purpose e-Channels to enable flexible deployment according to passenger traffic pattern. For the project of SMARTICS-2, the tendering exercise is underway and it is planned to be implemented in early 2018. The new system aims to replace the existing ageing computer system and to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness in supporting the issue of new smart Hong Kong identity cards.

The Feasibility Study of the Implementation of the Next Generation Electronic Passport System was completed in October 2014. Funding approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council for the project will be sought. For the Feasibility Study of the Implementation of Systems related to Visa Automation; Assistance to HK Residents, Births, Deaths & Marriage, Right of Abode Decision Support; and Enforcement Case Processing, it commenced in December 2014 and is scheduled to complete in early 2016.

Achievements

The 2015 Asia Pacific Smart Card Association Radiant eID Awards - Radiant Service Award

Award presentation ceremony of the Radiant eID Awards from the APSCA.

On 1 December 2015, the smart identity card and its system was awarded the Radiant Service Award of the Radiant eID Awards by the Asia Pacific Smart Card Association (APSCA).