Hong Kong 2006
Chapter 20:
Population and Immigration
Immigration Department
Personal Documentation
Nationality Matters
Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Outside Hong Kong
Births and Deaths
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Immigration Department

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.

Immigration Control

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.

Legal Immigration

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 quotas.

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 employment.

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 globalised market.

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.

Illegal Immigration

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 December.


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).

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