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In 2015, the Immigration Department continued to march forward on a concrete foundation. Our performance was well recognised by the public. It is my honour to share with you the Department’s achievements during the year.

Hong Kong is an international financial, transportation and trade centre. To sustain our advantages, population policy is one of the important elements. In order to complement the government’s policy initiatives to tackle an ageing population, we need to focus on attracting young talent, professionals and innovative entrepreneurs to come to Hong Kong to make contributions to our economy. In May 2015, the Department implemented the Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents and other enhancement measures, including relaxation of stay arrangements under various admission schemes, to attract people with valuable skills, knowledge or experience from all over the world to work and live in Hong Kong. To step up publicity, we visited overseas countries to promote the new scheme and other talent admission schemes to those who are interested in developing a career in Hong Kong.

In terms of immigration control, the number of passengers passing through our control points continued to increase in 2015, reaching over 296 million. To further enhance our handling capacity and efficiency, we effectively utilised information technology and extended the e-Channel service to accommodate more passengers. Hardware facilities at various control points were also upgraded. Improvement works at the Lok Ma Chau Control Point passenger terminal were completed in March 2015, boosting the number of e-Channels and kiosks for private cars significantly. Moreover, e-Channels with voice navigation function, which facilitated visually impaired persons to perform self-service immigration clearance, were extended to both the arrival and departure halls of Shenzhen Bay Control Point. At Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point, six designated e-Channels for cross-boundary students were put into operation to provide safe and efficient immigration clearance service for them.

The Department endeavours to lobby for visa-free access for HKSAR passport holders to facilitate their travel to more countries and territories. As at 31 December 2015, a total of 152 countries and territories have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to holders of HKSAR passports. In 2015, the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit continued to provide practical assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong, which included various major incidents such as the Nepal earthquake, the fire incident in New Taipei of Taiwan, the explosion in Bangkok of Thailand, etc. Furthermore, the 'Immigration Department Outbound Travel Safety Week' was organised in February 2015 to provide residents with travel tips for their use before and during outbound travel as well as information on seeking assistance outside Hong Kong.

Regarding law enforcement, the Department conducted numerous enforcement actions against illegal employment and parallel trading activities in 2015, including operations codenamed 'Twilight', 'Windsand', 'Champion' and joint operation 'Powerplayer'. A number of visitors and employers were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay and on suspicion of employing illegal workers respectively. We also kept a monitoring list of suspected parallel traders, which contained information on persons suspected to be involved in parallel trading activities. We made concerted efforts to combat illegal migration activities. Two syndicates arranging cross-boundary bogus marriage were cracked down in 2015.

In view of the rising trend of non-refoulement claim cases referred from control points, we continued to strengthen inspection at immigration clearance and conduct special operations against doubtful visitors at control points. Further investigation would be conducted to find out if any persons or agents had intentionally arranged for these doubtful visitors to lodge claims for non-refoulement in Hong Kong.

Keeping abreast of the latest trend, the Department has all along been utilising top-notch technology to enhance our service quality and efficiency. The New Immigration Control System will be implemented in phases from early 2016 to early 2017 to further enhance the handling efficiency and capacity for inbound and outbound passengers. The Next Generation Smart Identity Card System project and the Next Generation Electronic Passport System project are in the process of tendering exercise and feasibility study respectively. Following the launch of the Immigration Mobile Application, we commissioned an official YouTube Channel under the name of the Department in February 2016. Video clips featuring the most commonly used services and their respective application requirements and procedures were uploaded. The Channel provides an alternative self-service platform for the public to access information on the services and activities of the Department.

Adopting a people-based ethos, we are devoted to providing quality service to the public. We were 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. This award proved that our efforts to continuously improve our services were recognised by passengers from around the world. In addition, in the 2015 Hong Kong International Airport Customer Service Excellence Programme organised by the Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Department was once again awarded the Best Customer Service Enhancement Award while 18 staff were awarded a Certificate of Appreciation in the Corporate Excellence Award. For the fourth time, the Department won the Grand Award of The Ombudsman's Awards for Public Organisation in 2015, which was an endorsement of our professional and proactive attitude towards complaint handling as well as our concerted efforts in providing quality services to the public. We were also awarded the 10 Years Plus Caring Organisation Logo by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service in recognition of our commitment to caring for the community, employees and the environment.

As I always emphasise, staff is our most valuable asset and also our key to success. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all our staff, whose untiring efforts and wholehearted commitment have brought about the above-mentioned achievements. By the time this annual report comes to print, my successor will have taken over as the Director of Immigration. I believe the new Director will continue to lead the Department to march forward in unity, to serve the public with integrity, dedication and professionalism, and to pursue our vision to be the foremost immigration service in the world in effectiveness and efficiency, thus contributing to the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.

Director of Immigration
Chan Kwok-ki, Eric