Message from Director Message from Director
Message from Director

The year 2022 marks an important milestone for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as it celebrates its 25th anniversary of establishment amidst the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, with the full support of the Central Government for the HKSAR Government's anti-epidemic work, Hong Kong has eventually overcome the epidemic, and is progressing towards the resumption of normalcy. In the face of the epidemic, the staff of the Immigration Department (ImmD), with dauntless courage, have spared no efforts in supporting the anti-epidemic work of the HKSAR Government, keeping close guard at the forefront to fight the virus together with members of the public. As a disciplined service which attaches equal importance to law enforcement and service delivery, the ImmD has been forging ahead with resolution, unwaveringly fulfilling its constitutional responsibility of safeguarding national security while protecting Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the department serves the public with a people-oriented approach, and keeps striving for excellence by enhancing various services and talent admission schemes, with a view to contributing to the advancement of Hong Kong from stability to prosperity.

Fighting the epidemic without hesitation

Hong Kong has not been alone on its journey to fighting the epidemic over the past three years. With the strongest backing from our country, several Community Isolation Facilities (CIFs) were constructed with the support of the Central Government in an extremely short period of time. Under the co-ordination of the Security Bureau, the ImmD, without hesitation, became the first disciplined service to comprehensively manage the daily operations of the entire CIFs, and successively took over the three CIFs at Tsing Yi, San Tin and Hung Shui Kiu. The department mobilised about 1,100 officers to join the Anti-epidemic Task Force to provide round-the-clock care services for over 10,000 infected persons. Staying true to the original aspiration for serving the public, the department further set up a care team which proactively reached out and provided assistance to persons under isolation, in particular the elderly, children and persons with special needs so as to optimise the management of the facilities. Confronted with the unprecedented and arduous tasks, the department embraced the notion of 'putting the people and their lives first', with all staff giving their unflinching support in protecting the public in response to every call.

The ImmD actively supported the government in fighting the epidemic. Since the onset of the epidemic, the department has been standing at the forefront by mobilising over 4,000 attendance of officers to participate in various types of anti-epidemic work. For other staff members who remained in their original positions, they also stayed vigilant at all times without letting their guard down while standing fast at their posts. As the saying goes, 'Preparedness ensures success and unpreparedness spells failure'. In this regard, ongoing preparatory work for the resumption of normal travel, including formulation of contingency plans, manpower deployment and large-scale drills, had been fully carried out. With the Central Government's agreement in December 2022 to the progressive, orderly and comprehensive resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, the department has made manpower deployment in the light of the specific circumstances upon the resumption and made every effort to ensure the smooth operation of various immigration control points in a bid to restore the vibrant flow of visitors that used to be seen in Hong Kong.

In July 2022, the department held a sharing session on the 'Spirit of the President's Important Speech' for staff members to gain an in-depth understanding of the spirit of the speech made by the President.

In July 2022, the department held a sharing session on the 'Spirit of the President's Important Speech' for staff members to gain an in-depth understanding of the spirit of the speech made by the President.

Addressing people's difficulties with a people-oriented approach

'The country is its people; the people are the country'. Since its establishment in 1961, the ImmD has been providing services which are closely related to members of the public. Given the frequent contact that staff members have with the public in their daily work, the departmental value of 'putting people first' has long been deeply ingrained in their minds, driving the department to continuously improve and enhance its services for greater benefits and convenience of the public.

As the epidemic raged over the past three years, there has been a decrease in outbound travel by Hong Kong people, and a large number of HKSAR passports of the residents have been expired or are about to expire. To plan ahead and make early preparations, the department has, well before the relaxation of arrival quarantine requirements around the world, reminded members of the public through various means of publicity to early renew their HKSAR passports. In addition to the production of a promotional video, the department introduced from July to September 2022 the innovative HKSAR Passport Mobile Application Stations, which were promotional vehicles that travelled around all 18 districts throughout Hong Kong to strengthen publicity and provide members of the public with the service of on-site application for an HKSAR passport in the hope of addressing the pressing needs and difficulties of the public promptly.

Given the travel restrictions imposed by various countries and territories under the pandemic, some non-permanent residents outside Hong Kong were unable to return to Hong Kong to apply for extension of stay in a timely manner. The ImmD, in the light of the changing circumstances, has implemented temporary arrangements since April 2022 to allow eligible non-permanent residents outside Hong Kong to apply for extension of stay. All these measures are in conformity with one of the “four proposals”, ie 'earnestly addressing people's concerns and difficulties in livelihood', put forward by President Xi Jinping for the new-term HKSAR Government.

The ImmD's Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) has always been standing ready to assist Hong Kong residents outside Hong Kong. In 2022, there were a number of incidents outside Hong Kong involving Hong Kong residents being lured to work in Southeast Asian countries. The AHU promptly followed up on the requests for assistance, and set up a designated WhatsApp hotline to facilitate the communication between the AHU and the assistance seekers. To further strengthen the services and support for Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong, following the introduction of the 1868 Hotline Network Data Call function in 2021 and the addition of the Online Assistance Request Form in June 2022, the department is planning to develop a designated 1868 WhatsApp hotline in 2023, stepping up its efforts to provide greater convenience for Hong Kong residents in need of assistance outside Hong Kong.

Forging ahead with technological innovation

The ImmD proactively adopts innovative technologies to provide people-oriented services more effectively. To move with the times, the department has been committed to supporting the HKSAR Government to accelerate the pace of smart city development. Our Next Generation Electronic Passport System achieved remarkable success by winning the Gold Prize of the Innovation and Technology Award (Best Citizen-centric Innovation) in the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme 2022.

The ImmD has continuously upgraded its digital services so that members of the public can use its services without leaving home. The electronic services for visa application were introduced in phases at the end of 2021, and have now been extended to all types of visa applications, allowing applicants to complete in one go the relevant visa application process online anytime, anywhere without having to visit an Immigration Office in person, which reduced crowd gatherings as a result. The I-RemindU Service will also be introduced in early 2023. This personalised notification service is launched to promptly remind those who have registered for the service to submit immigration-related applications, with a view to bringing convenience to the public through innovative services. In addition, the ImmD extended the Contactless e-Channel service to all immigration control points in 2022. The e-Channel service will also be further extended to cover more target groups in 2023 so as to provide more people with a fast and hygienic immigration clearance experience.

The youth is the future of Hong Kong. The department will continue to expand the scope of its youth-related work, nurturing a new generation of young people with a sense of commitment, an aspiring mindset, and the capability to contribute to our country and Hong Kong.

The youth is the future of Hong Kong. The department will continue to expand the scope of its youth-related work, nurturing a new generation of young people with a sense of commitment, an aspiring mindset, and the capability to contribute to our country and Hong Kong.

Trawling for talents, connecting the Bay Area, and integrating into the overall development of the country

With the gradual stabilisation of the epidemic and the resumption of normalcy in society, the competition for international talents to settle in Hong Kong has become increasingly intense. As remarked by President Xi Jinping in his speech on 1 July 2022, one of the 'four musts' is to maintain Hong Kong's unique status and advantages. Under the implementation of 'one country, two systems', Hong Kong has the distinctive advantages of enjoying strong support of the motherland and being closely connected to the world. The ImmD keeps itself actively engaged in the national development strategies and facilitates the HKSAR Government's implementation of initiatives to 'compete for talents'. To this end, the Top Talent Pass Scheme was launched on 28 December 2022 to attract high-income talents and graduates from the world's top universities. At the same time, enhancements to the existing talent admission schemes were made with streamlined application procedures to provide the greatest immigration convenience for talents from around the world.

On the other hand, the ImmD will continue to improve the efficiency of immigration clearance and upgrade the infrastructures of land boundary control points, so as to strengthen the connectivity with other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The ImmD will optimise the hardware and software of the existing immigration systems and flexibly deploy manpower to ensure the smooth operation of various immigration control points. Meanwhile, the ImmD will actively facilitate the redevelopment of the Huanggang Port and Sha Tau Kok Port for the implementation of the 'co-location' arrangement and the 'collaborative inspection and joint clearance' new clearance mode with a view to improving passenger clearance experience and efficiency as well as further facilitating the flow of people between the two sides, such that Hong Kong can better integrate into the overall development of the country.

In October 2022, the topping-out ceremony of the new Immigration Department Headquarters located in Tseung Kwan O concluded successfully. The department will continue to deliver quality services to the public.

In October 2022, the topping-out ceremony of the new Immigration Department Headquarters located in Tseung Kwan O concluded successfully. The department will continue to deliver quality services to the public.

Enforcing the law with determined efforts, nurturing youth, and safeguarding national security

National security is the bedrock of national rejuvenation, and social stability is a prerequisite for making our country strong and prosperous. The ImmD has always been shouldering the constitutional responsibility of guarding the southern gate of the country. The overall national security concept is being unswervingly realised to secure the prosperity and stability of the country and Hong Kong.

While facilitating genuine visitors to enter and exit Hong Kong, the ImmD maintains stringent gatekeeping by exercising effective immigration and visa controls to prevent criminals from entering Hong Kong, deny entry to undesirables and guard against any activities that endanger national security. The ImmD spares no effort in performing its duties related to national security, including working closely with overseas and Mainland law enforcement agencies for joint operations on counter-terrorism, curbing transnational illegal migration as well as combating illegal entry of non-ethnic Chinese people into Hong Kong and forgery, etc. The ImmD will resolutely continue with its deportation work to remove undesirables from Hong Kong. Starting from 7 December 2022, the HKSAR Government has implemented an updated removal policy to prevent non-refoulement claimants from exploiting judicial proceeding as tactics for prolonging their illegal stay in Hong Kong, thereby further deterring illegal immigrants and overstayers from abusing the non-refoulement claim mechanism.

The ImmD's mission to safeguard national security is inseparable from its law enforcement work, while youth education also plays a crucial role in realising the mission. The ImmD is well aware that safeguarding national security is a historical mission to be passed from generations to generations. The ImmD has always held the belief of "today's young shoots are tomorrow's strong pillars" and is committed to cultivating virtues and nurturing a new generation of young people with patriotism and love for our country and Hong Kong. At present, all new recruits of the Immigration Service are required to undergo Chinese-style footdrill training to foster their sense of national belonging and demonstrate the team spirit of the disciplined services. The programmes for induction and in-service training not only cover the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the Basic Law and the National Security Law, but also incorporate the explication of spirit of the 20th National Congress, the remarks made by President Xi Jinping on 1 July, and national security education. All this is to deepen staff members' understanding of the overall national security concept, strengthen their sense of national identity and patriotism.

'Hong Kong will prosper only when its young people thrive; Hong Kong will develop only when its young people achieve well-rounded development; and Hong Kong will have a bright future only when its young people have good prospects.' Established in 2013, the Immigration Department Youth Leaders Corps (IDYL) has a total of over 400 members from about 20 secondary schools. To tie in with the Youth Development Blueprint of the HKSAR Government, the IDYL's training programme covers national education, Chinese-style footdrill, community services and outdoor training. The aim of the training is to develop members' law-abiding awareness, leadership skills, and positive thinking, so as to nurture a new generation of young people with an affection for our country and Hong Kong as well as having a global perspective.


Over the past 25 years since its return to the Motherland, Hong Kong has, with the full support of the country, forged ahead dauntlessly amidst challenges. As the country embarks on a fresh journey, new opportunities will also open up for Hong Kong.

Our colleagues have always been the department's most valuable asset. They are the key to our continued advancement and development. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all my colleagues. It is their selfless dedication and solidarity that enable the ImmD to perform its duties with determination and perseverance. By the time this annual report is published, I will have retired as Director of Immigration. It is my great honour to have led the ImmD to shoulder the important responsibility of safeguarding national security and worked alongside colleagues who are totally dedicated to serving the community. I firmly believe that under the leadership of the new director, the ImmD will continue to captalise on its strengths to safeguard national security, contribute to the development of our country, and draw up a blueprint for Hong Kong in the new era for the development and prosperity of both our country and Hong Kong.

AU Ka-wang, IDSM
Director of Immigration