Immigration Department Annual Report 2015
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January

The Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations codenamed 'Twilight' and 'Windsand' to combat illegal employment activities, leading to the apprehension of 131 illegal workers and 8 employers on suspicion of employing illegal workers. Amongst them, 109 Mainland visitors were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading.

Two Mainland pregnant women pleaded guilty to the offence of making false representation on their pregnancy status to the immigration officers upon their arrival in Hong Kong by falsely claiming that they were not pregnant. They were each charged with one count of making false representation to an immigration officer, and one of them was additionally charged with one count of breach of condition of stay. They were sentenced to 9 months' and 12 months' imprisonment respectively.

A joint operation codenamed 'Firenet' was conducted by the Department and the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department, the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau and the Shenzhen General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection to neutralise an active cross-boundary human smuggling syndicate which specialised in arranging for Vietnamese nationals to seek illegal entry into Hong Kong. During the operation, investigators arrested 23 persons including 3 core syndicate members. Nine of the arrested persons were convicted with sentences ranging from a fine of $2,000 to 15 months' imprisonment.

February

The Department organised the 'Immigration Department Outbound Travel Safety Week' in February 2015 at the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai. The exhibition highlighted what residents should prepare before departure, the points to note while travelling abroad and the ways to seek assistance.

The Department, the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department jointly mounted a series of territory-wide anti-illegal worker operations at Lunar New Year fairs, leading to the arrest of eight illegal workers and eight suspected employers.

March

The Working Holiday Scheme was extended to Austria on 2 March 2015. Austrian participants of the scheme are allowed to stay up to six months in Hong Kong for holiday and to take up short-term employment during their stay.

The Department held a Consular Cocktail Reception at the Immigration Officers Mess on 5 March 2015 to strengthen relations with consular officials.

Improvement works at Lok Ma Chau Passenger Clearance Building were completed in March 2015. The number of e-Channels was increased from the original 20 to 33, while the facilities of the relevant departments were also enhanced. In addition, the construction of two additional kiosks for private cars was completed in September 2015. The number of kiosks for private cars was increased from 14 to 16.

April

With effect from 23 April 2015, HKSAR passport holders do not need a visa for visiting the Republic of Zambia with the duration of stay to be determined by the competent authorities upon arrival.

On 27 April 2015, e-Channel with voice navigation function for visually impaired persons was extended to the arrival and departure halls of Shenzhen Bay Control Point.

A Hong Kong resident confessed that he had been paid a monetary reward to contract a bogus marriage with a Mainland pregnant woman in order to enable her to obtain a Confirmation Certificate on Delivery Booking for delivery in Hong Kong. He also admitted that he had made false representation twice to an immigration officer that his marriage with the Mainland pregnant woman was genuine upon her arrival attempts so as to assist her entry to Hong Kong. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of making false representation, and was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment.

The Department smashed a syndicate arranging cross-boundary bogus marriages and a Hong Kong resident mastermind was arrested. The arrested person pleaded guilty to the offence of conspiracy to defraud at the District Court and was sentenced to 22 months' imprisonment.

May

With a view to recruiting and retaining more talent and professionals from outside Hong Kong, the pilot Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents and various enhancement measures on the admission arrangements for talent, professionals and entrepreneurs were implemented on 4 May 2015.

Passing-out parades were held on 22 May and 27 November 2015 respectively. A total of 47 Immigration Officers and 239 Immigration Assistants graduated and became the young force of the Department.

To cope with the increasing demand for immigration clearance service of cross-boundary students (CBS), six designated e-Channels for CBS were put into operation at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point in May 2015 to expedite the clearance of CBS.

A joint operation codenamed 'Sunlever' was conducted by the Department and the Police to smash a human smuggling syndicate that specialised in arranging for nationals of South Asian countries to seek illegal entry into Hong Kong. During the operation, a total of 14 suspects, including 2 masterminds, were arrested.

June

With effect from 18 June 2015, HKSAR passport holders may apply for visas for stays up to 30 days upon arrival at Lao International Airports or Lao international border checkpoints for pleasure visit.

The Airport Division was voted the winner of the 2015 Skytrax Award for Best Airport Immigration Service in the World Airport Survey commissioned by Skytrax, a United Kingdom-based specialist research agent of the air transport industry.

The Department successfully neutralised a forgery syndicate providing a one-stop service to illegal workers. The mastermind, a Hong Kong resident, pleaded guilty to the offence of conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to 23 months' imprisonment. The other two Hong Kong residents pleaded guilty to the offence of money laundering. They were sentenced to 12 months' and 6 months and 2 weeks' imprisonment respectively.

July

In the 2015 Hong Kong International Airport Customer Service Excellence Programme organised by the Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Airport Division was awarded the Best Customer Service Enhancement Award and 18 frontline staff of the Airport Control Point were also awarded Certificate of Appreciation in the Corporate Excellence Award.

The Department smashed a syndicate arranging cross-boundary bogus marriages and a Hong Kong resident core member was arrested. He pleaded guilty to the offence of conspiracy to defraud at the District Court and was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment.

August

The Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations codenamed 'Twilight', 'Powerplayer', 'Champion' and 'Windsand' to combat illegal employment activities, leading to the apprehension of 63 illegal workers and 11 employers on suspicion of employing illegal workers. Amongst them, 26 Mainland visitors were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading.

September

The validity of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card granted to a successful applicant whose application is submitted on or after 1 September 2015 has been extended from three to five years.

e-Channel service was extended to enrolled Consular Corps Identity Card holders.

A Mainland woman admitted to having contracted a bogus marriage with a Hong Kong resident so as to obtain a Confirmation Certificate on Delivery Booking for delivery in Hong Kong. She was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain services by deception. She was sentenced to a total of 15 months' imprisonment.

A joint operation codenamed 'Sunlever II' was conducted by the Department and the Police to crack down on a human smuggling syndicate that specialised in arranging for Vietnamese nationals to seek illegal entry into Hong Kong. During the operation, 18 persons, including 2 syndicate members, were arrested.

October

The Department won the Grand Award of The Ombudsman's Awards 2015 for Public Organisations.

November

The Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations codenamed 'Twilight', 'Champion', 'Windsand' and 'Powerplayer' to combat illegal employment activities, leading to the apprehension of 36 illegal workers and 5 employers on suspicion of employing illegal workers. Amongst them, 12 Mainland visitors were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading.

December

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.