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A general introduction to immigration law and policy in Hong Kong

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Introduction to the immigration framework

Hong Kong, a main intercontinental economic and business centre and the gateway to China, has a liberal and adaptable small business immigration plan. This plan encourages investments into Hong Kong and facilitates the transfer of enterprise and expert team of worldwide organizations that have operations in Hong Kong or who desire to established up here.

The nationals of some 170 nations and territories may possibly enter Hong Kong without a visa as website visitors for periods various from 7 days to 6 months.2 Nevertheless, persons who are admitted to Hong Kong as website visitors are not permitted to be used without having very first getting acceptance from the Director of Immigration.

Though Hong Kong is aspect of the People’s Republic of China (China), Short article 154 of the Primary Regulation (Hong Kong’s Constitution) offers that the Hong Kong Particular Administrative Region (HKSAR) governing administration may possibly implement immigration controls on entry into, keeping in and departure from the location by individuals from foreign states and locations.

Consequently, Hong Kong’s immigration and visa coverage is impartial from that of China and, under the ‘one state, two systems’ policy, Chinese citizens who are mainland inhabitants require an entry or exit permit to enter Hong Kong except they are in transit by Hong Kong to an ongoing desired destination, in which case they may possibly be granted a remain of 7 times.

i Laws and coverage

The Immigration Ordinance (Chapter 115) and the Immigration Rules (Chapter 115A) of the HKSAR cover problems such as the proper of abode (long-lasting residence), immigration regulate, unlawful immigration, Vietnamese refugees, detention and removing problems, circumstances of remain, and legal penalties for the employment of individuals not legally authorised to perform and for breach of situations.

The actual coverage and techniques on entry for work in Hong Kong are not dealt with in the Immigration Ordinance and Rules but are established by way of govt policy. This policy is issue to alterations from time to time as new work visa insurance policies and strategies are introduced and executed in response to the perceived wants of businesses in the small business neighborhood and the financial system of Hong Kong.

ii The immigration authorities

The Hong Kong Immigration Office (HKID) is accountable for implementing Hong Kong’s immigration law and plan, and the Director of Immigration has wide discretion in generating selections. In the situation of an adverse final decision, a ask for for reconsideration may possibly be entertained if there are new facts and major more info formerly not considered.

Conclusions on the appropriate of abode (lasting residency) may possibly be appealed to the Registration of Folks Tribunal under Portion 3D of the Registration of Individuals Ordinance, Chapter 177.

In addition, Section 53 of the Immigration Ordinance delivers that any person aggrieved by a final decision, act or omission of any public officer taken, carried out or built in the exercising or performance of any powers, functions or duties beneath this Ordinance may possibly, by detect in composing lodged with the Main Secretary for Administration in 14 times, object to that choice, act or omission.

A Part 53 appeal is a lengthy approach, and if the man or woman trying to get critique is a visitor, lodging this appeal does not signify that the human being will be permitted to remain in Hong Kong pending a conclusion on the attraction.

At last, judicial evaluation of the administrative action taken is also possible in the Courtroom of To start with Instance, while, in follow, decisions of the Director of Immigration are almost never overturned.

iii Exemptions and favoured industries

Hong Kong does not present for exemptions or preferential therapy based mostly on market sectors for work visa types. Nevertheless, big publicly listed multinational businesses that have an established observe report of sponsoring personnel on a recurring foundation, and providers that have effectively received an employment visa for foreign staff in just the previous 18 months instantly right before an employment visa submission is manufactured are exempted from submitting the sponsor’s supporting enterprise documents, these kinds of as enterprise registration records, audited economic statements, gain tax returns and other much more substantial paperwork to confirm the sponsoring company’s economical viability and standing.

The technology expertise admission plan (TechTAS) is a speedy-observe arrangement for suitable companies to admit non-local technological innovation talent to undertake exploration and development (R&D) perform for them in the HKSAR in the regions of artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity, knowledge analytics, fiscal systems, substance science, robotics, 5G communications, digital leisure, environmentally friendly technologies, built-in circuit design, the online of points or microelectronics.3

While not business-sector specific, large-scoring candidates applying beneath the good quality migrant admission scheme (QMAS) (a category discussed in higher detail in Segment V.ii) are limited-mentioned for even more evaluation and will be handed on to the Advisory Committee on Admission of High-quality Migrants and Experts (Advisory Committee) for suggestion of the allocation of the available quota to the Director of Immigration in every assortment exercising based on Hong Kong’s socioeconomic demands, the sectoral combine of the candidates and other appropriate things.

The yr in evaluate

i Covid-19 limitations on entry to the HKSAR

As the impact of the covid-19 outbreak continues to increase across the world, worldwide immigration lawyers locate on their own in many levels of the crisis management daily life cycle, possessing to recommend shoppers and businesses with enterprise journey and immigration needs.

ii Non-Hong Kong citizens barred from entry

Now, all non-Hong Kong residents coming from abroad nations are denied entry to Hong Kong. Observe, even so, that in addition to permanent inhabitants of Hong Kong, any foreign countrywide keeping a legitimate work, dependent or college student visa is thought of a Hong Kong resident. Hong Kong citizens and non-Hong Kong residents, irrespective of vaccination status who are travelling from China or Macao who have not been to any other nation or region in the past 14 times, are permitted to enter Hong Kong. All those who have been fully vaccinated can quarantine at house or at a lodge or other accommodation.

Efficient from 8 January 2022, as a outcome of the outbreak of the omicron variant, Hong Kong imposed a flight ban on flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States. Hong Kong people who have stayed in these sites for more than two hours will also be limited from boarding passenger flights to avert them from travelling to Hong Kong by means of transit. This flight ban, which was initially scheduled to be reviewed on 20 April 2022, was lifted on 1 April 2022 to permit Hong Kongers abroad to return home.

iii Compulsory quarantine

All Hong Kong inhabitants who have travelled to any countries other than mainland China, Macao and Taiwan in the earlier 14 days who have been thoroughly vaccinated are topic to compulsory quarantine in federal government-designated quarantine hotels for 14 times. If they have travelled to any of the 9 international locations matter to the flight ban, they must commit 14 times from the day of departure in a further place ahead of they may possibly board a flight to Hong Kong. On arrival, travellers will want to offer confirmation of a lodge area reservation at their specified quarantine resort (which is incredibly hard to ensure because of the confined variety of inns collaborating in the authorities scheme). The hotel quarantine interval was lowered to seven times helpful from 1 April 2022. For up-to-day information on entry specifications and restrictions, be sure to refer to the govt web site.5

The lawful basis for obligatory quarantine rests on the public wellness crisis grounds of the Avoidance and Management of Sickness Ordinance (Chapter 599). Under Part 8 of the Ordinance, the Main Government in Council may perhaps make restrictions for the intent of avoiding, combating or assuaging the effects of the general public well being unexpected emergency and guarding community well being.

Anybody who violates the quarantine prerequisite may well experience a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 6 months and a fantastic of HK$25,000 upon conviction.

iv Effects on functions of the Hong Kong Immigration Office

As a result of the existing omicron variant outbreak, the HKID declared on 2 February 2022 a ‘work from home’ coverage, other than for workers of departments delivering emergency products and services and vital public products and services these kinds of as the urgent extension of visa applications and passport purposes and renewals. Regimen providers these types of as new work visa programs and applications for variations of employment sponsors and non-urgent applications for extensions of remain are to be submitted by publish or fall-in box and adjudications are most likely to be delayed.

With regard to extensions of stay, the HKID has a very long-standing necessity that a Hong Kong visa holder ought to be in Hong Kong physically on the day a visa extension application is submitted and on the day the visa extension label is collected. As a lot of Hong Kong work visa and other resident visa holders could not make a well timed return to Hong Kong for the reason that of the covid-19 pandemic, the HKID ongoing its momentary plan declared on 31 December 31 2020 that if a visa holder is outside the house of Hong Kong and is not able to return, he or she could nevertheless submit a visa extension application collectively with the required supporting documents from outdoors of Hong Kong delivered the visa is expiring within four months or has expired for a lot less than a single calendar year.6

This kind of candidates are expected to furnish a letter giving good reasons for their incapacity to return to Hong Kong to file their programs in a timely fashion. If their applications are approved, the visa holders will be issued with e-visas for their return to Hong Kong inside of 6 months of the discover of approval letter. This coverage does not, nonetheless, utilize to foreign domestic helpers and imported personnel.

Despite the government’s lifting of flight bans from the 9 countries and the reduction of obligatory quarantine from 14 times to 7 times for travellers who have been fully vaccinated, several expatriates doing the job at multinational providers have remaining or are leaving Hong Kong although some others are hesitant to just take up work chances right here.

There is also a growing issue among businesses who are encountering delays in the adjudication of work visa purposes mainly because of a heightened degree of scrutiny and concerns from HKID as to no matter if there has been ample recruitment endeavours conducted locally for positions proposed to be filled by expatriates. The covid-relevant economic downturn has resulted in HKID having a additional protective, inward-seeking stance to shield area labour and a lot of firms are dealing with heavier burdens to confirm they have carried out intensive area recruitment prior to sponsored candidates are accredited for work visas. The passage of the Nationality Protection Legislation and the stress in relations involving China and the United States and United Kingdom also seems to have influenced some conclusions to deny or not to increase work visas for perfectly-competent applicants since of unspoken security worries, notably with regard to sponsorship by print or electronic media or NGOs.

In sum, quite a few expatriates who are extensive-time Hong Kong inhabitants have remaining or are planning to go away and other highly experienced professionals are hesitant to shift in this article because of the Hong Kong government’s very restrictive covid-19 quarantine coverage, which makes it incredibly hard to journey involving Hong Kong and their home nations around the world simply because of the scarcity of flights accessible and the incapacity to e-book quarantine hotels. The situation is further exacerbated by the Hong Kong government’s policy beneath which airways are prohibited from traveling a distinct route for 14 times (diminished to 7 days on 1 April 2022) if a previous flight from the very same route carried three or extra travellers who examination positive for covid-19 on arrival.

This helps make Hong Kong substantially fewer attractive to global businesses who desire to keep an Asian hub that is attractive to their best expertise. When Hong Kong has historically constantly experienced ebbs and flows in immigration, the government’s ‘zero covid’ plan has been the driving drive powering multinationals and even modest and medium-sized businesses’ and entrepreneurs’ and investors’ conclusions to shift their places of work and staff out of Hong Kong and there are significant problems about Hong Kong’s upcoming as an international fiscal centre.

Outlook and conclusions

Hong Kong has a liberal and open immigration plan to companies, investors and specialists who would like to invest and work here and the HKID has traditionally facilitated the effective processing of visas for persons who will contribute to Hong Kong’s economic advancement and prosperity. This flexible immigration plan to catch the attention of very skilled and talented gurus responsive to the financial conditions and labour requires of firms is in jeopardy since of the Hong Kong government’s exceptionally restrictive quarantine policies and its closure of its borders to all non-Hong Kong citizens.

The city’s track record as a international money centre has been severely harmed and its ability to keep its competitive edge and primary placement as an intercontinental organization and financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region is at danger with many international organizations downsizing or closing their Hong Kong places of work and relocating international and regional groups to Singapore or other jurisdictions. As the relaxation of the planet opens up, Hong Kong’s continued adherence to China’s zero-covid coverage will retain it isolated and minimize off from most of the environment. The massive-scale exodus of global executives and professionals because of border controls and social restrictions that has produced it virtually extremely hard to journey and to see family members in their property nations around the world for the past two several years and Hong Kong’s incapability to bring in prime overseas expertise will go on. In spite of Hong Kong’s purpose as a gateway to company alternatives in China, its reduced tax regime, and the point that most corporations are not that concerned about the rule of law as applied to the commercial setting and the passage of the Nationwide Security Law, it will just take many years to rebuild the attractiveness of Hong Kong for organizations and overseas expertise due to the fact of livelihood issues. Though the government’s current easing of its quarantine plan is a move in the appropriate path, the continued stringent travel preparations have deterred airlines from flying to Hong Kong and its position as a world wide aviation hub has been severely threatened. Lots of multinationals that had utilised Hong Kong as their Asian base, which are not exclusively centered on Greater China, have presently moved to Singapore, Dubai or other jurisdictions.