The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is a separate travel area
with autonomy over its immigration policy. In accordance with the Basic Law, the
HKSAR Government exercises immigration controls over entry into, stays in and
departure from the HKSAR by people from foreign states and regions. The Basic Law
also sets out the regulations for entry into the HKSAR of people from the Mainland.
Apart from controlling the movement of people into and out of the HKSAR, the
Immigration Department provides a wide range of services to local residents,
including the issuance of HKSAR passports and other travel documents, visas and
identity cards, the handling of nationality and residency matters, and the registration
of births, deaths and marriages. To enhance these services, the Immigration
Department has been using advanced information technology since 2001-02 to
disseminate information faster and more effectively to a wider audience. The new
technology enables the department to meet growing public demand for quality
service at lower cost and in a more responsive manner. Where practicable, the
department has been conducting business electronically to meet the needs of a fast-moving,
fast developing city. The department is also responsible for keeping the flow
of immigrants into Hong Kong at an acceptable level and for facilitating admission to
Hong Kong of people who can contribute substantially to the city's economic growth.
They include professional people, investors and highly talented people.
The HKSAR welcomes visitors and adopts a liberal visa policy. People from about
170 countries and territories can enter the HKSAR visa-free for visits lasting between
seven and 180 days. The number of people entering and leaving Hong Kong in 2006
topped the 202 million mark, 5.6 per cent up on the number for 2005. Close to 151
million arrived by land, mostly from the Chinese Mainland.
The Mainland is the major contributor to Hong Kong's immigrant population.
During the year, about 54 000 mainlanders joined their families in Hong Kong under
the One-way Permit Scheme, which admits 150 mainlanders into the city each day.
Right of Abode
Article 24 of the Basic Law states that permanent residents of Hong Kong,
regardless of their nationalities, have the right of abode in the HKSAR, and may
obtain permanent identity cards.
Certificate of Entitlement Scheme
Under Article 24(2)(3) of the Basic Law, persons of Chinese nationality born
outside Hong Kong of Hong Kong permanent residents are entitled to be permanent
residents of the HKSAR with right of abode. The Immigration Ordinance stipulates
that in order for a person to qualify for the right of abode under Article 24(2)(3) of
the Basic Law, at least one of his or her natural parents must be a Chinese citizen
who has the right of abode at the time of birth of that person. The Government
introduced the Certificate of Entitlement Scheme on July 10, 1997, under which a
person's status as a permanent resident of the HKSAR under Article 24(2)(3) of the
Basic Law can be established only by holding a valid travel document such as a
One-way Permit with a valid certificate of entitlement affixed to it. This arrangement
enables systematic verification of right of abode claims and ensures orderly entry.
Between July 1, 1997 and the end of 2006, some 168 900 certificate of entitlement
holders entered Hong Kong from the Mainland.
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme
The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme was launched on June 28, 2006 to
attract talented people from the Mainland and overseas to settle in Hong Kong. The
scheme is quota-based with an initial annual quota of 1 000. Applicants are required
to choose to be assessed under one of two point-based tests, namely the General
Points Test or the Achievement-based Points Test, and compete for quota allocation.
Selection exercises are conducted on a regular basis to allocate quotas to the most
meritorious applicants. Successful applicants are not required to secure an offer of
local employment before entering Hong Kong for settlement. An advisory committee
comprising official and non-official members appointed by the Chief Executive was
established to recommend to the Director of Immigration how best to allocate
A total of 587 applications were received in 2006. Of the 122 short-listed
applications forwarded to the advisory committee for deliberation, 83 were allocated
quotas — under the General Points Test and 10 under the Achievement-based
Points Test. At year's end, 25 successful applicants were issued with visas or entry
permits to live and work in Hong Kong.
Capital Investment Entrant Scheme
The Capital Investment Entrant Scheme was launched in October 2003. The
scheme's objective is to facilitate the entry for residence of people who make capital
investments in Hong Kong but who would not, in the context of the scheme, be
engaged in running any business here. The new capital brought in by them is helpful
to Hong Kong's economic development. The scheme is applicable generally to foreign
nationals, Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) residents, Chinese nationals
who have obtained permanent resident status in a foreign country, stateless people
who have obtained permanent resident status in a foreign country with proven
re-entry facilities, and residents of Taiwan. Successful applicants are required to invest
in Hong Kong not less than $6.5 million in real estate or permissible financial assets,
such as equities, debt securities, certificates of deposits, subordinated debt and other
eligible Collective Investment Schemes. By end of 2006, a total of 1 910 applications
had been received and 978 had been granted formal approval. Another 205
applicants, having been granted approval in principle, will be given formal approval,
subject to their investments in the manner prescribed under the scheme. The 978
entrants, with formal approval, have invested a total of $6.99 billion.
Entry for Employment
Hong Kong maintains an open and liberal policy towards entry into the city for
employment. People from places other than the Mainland, who possess special skills,
knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong, or who
are in a position to make substantial contributions to the economy, are welcome to
come and work. Having ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of
not less than seven years and made Hong Kong their place of permanent residence,
they may apply to become Hong Kong permanent residents in accordance with the
law. During the year, 21 958 professionals and people with technical, administrative
or managerial skills from more than 100 countries and territories were admitted for
Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals
The Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals was launched in
July 2003. The scheme's aim is to attract talented people and professionals from the
Mainland to work in Hong Kong to meet local manpower needs, facilitate local
economic and other development, and enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness in the
There is no sectoral restriction or quota under the scheme. The vetting criteria
are consistent with those of the General Employment Policy. Apart from professionals
in the commercial and financial fields, talented people and professionals in the arts,
culture and sporting sectors as well as those in the culinary profession may also apply.
People admitted under the scheme may apply for the right of abode after having
ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years
in accordance with the law. Since the scheme's inception, 14 155 entry applications
have been approved.
Employment of Mainland Graduates with Hong Kong Degrees
With effect from August 1, 2001, Mainland students who have graduated from
University Grants Committee (UGC) funded institutions since 1990 are allowed to
enter Hong Kong for employment. They should also possess special skills or
knowledge of value to but not readily available in Hong Kong. In July 2005, this
policy was extended to those who were admitted to study at non-UGC-funded
institutions in the academic year 2005-06 and thereafter, and who subsequently
graduated from full-time locally accredited degree-level or above programmes. The
aim of this arrangement is to attract outstanding Mainland students who have
completed full-time locally accredited studies at degree or above levels to work in
Hong Kong after graduation. During the year, 405 Mainland students received
approval to enter through this channel.
Entry of Dependants
Under existing policy, spouses, unmarried dependent children under the age of
18 and dependent parents aged 60 or above of Hong Kong permanent residents, or
of those who are not subject to a limit of stay may apply to enter Hong Kong as
dependants. People who are admitted under the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme,
the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, and those admitted to take up studies in
full-time undergraduate or post-graduate programmes in local degree-awarding
institutions, may sponsor their spouses and unmarried dependent children under the
age of 18 to apply to enter Hong Kong as dependants.
The HKSAR keeps a close watch on illegal immigrants. About nine Mainland
illegal immigrants were arrested each day in 2006, 50 per cent up on the figure for
2005. The number of Vietnamese illegal immigrants arrested in 2006 was 598.
The Government maintains close liaison with the Mainland and overseas
governments on matters relating to population movements and irregular migration.
During the year, representatives from the HKSAR law enforcement agencies
participated in the Bali Process Workshop on Operationalising Immigration
Intelligence held in Singapore in January; the China and Southeast Asia ALO Network
Regional Conference held in HKSAR in February; the Inter-Government Asia-Pacific
Consultations on Refugees, Displaced Persons and Migrants held in Dalian, China in
September; the 12th Pacific Rim Immigration Intelligence Conference held in HKSAR
in November; the Bali Process Workshop on 'Human Trafficking: Victim Support' held
in Bali, Indonesia in November; the 11th Annual Plenary Session of the Inter-governmental
Asia-Pacific Consultations on Refugees, Displaced Persons and
Migrants held in Xiaman, China in November; the Third Meeting of the Asian
Workshop on Passport Policy held in Tokyo, Japan in November; and Transnational
Policing Cooperation in the Area of Combating Illegal Migration in Macao SAR in
The estimated number of emigrants from Hong Kong was 10 300 in 2006 most
of whom went to the United States (3 500), Australia (2 700) and Canada (1 600).