Hong Kong 2003
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Imported Workers

General Policy on Entry for Employment

The Immigration Department controls the entry of foreigners for employment. Foreigners may work or invest in Hong Kong if they possess a special skill, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong and are employed with a remuneration broadly commensurate with the market level, or if they can make a substantial contribution to the economy.

The department applies the policy in a flexible manner. Genuine business persons and entrepreneurs are welcome to establish a presence in Hong Kong, bringing with them capital and expertise. Qualified professionals, technical staff, administrators and managerial personnel are also admitted with the minimum formalities. During the year, 15 774 foreign professionals and persons with technical, administrative or managerial skills from more than 100 countries/territories were admitted for employment.

Importation of Labour

Apart from the above, a Supplementary Labour Scheme is operated for the importation of workers who do not fall under the general policy on entry for employment. The Government's policy on importation of labour is based on two cardinal principles:


local workers must be given priority in filling job vacancies available in the job market; and



employers who are genuinely unable to recruit local workers to fill their job vacancies should be allowed to import workers.

This scheme commenced in February 1996. All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. To ensure priority of employment for local workers, each application for imported workers has to pass three tests before it is submitted to the Labour Advisory Board for consideration and to the Government for a decision. These tests are advertising in newspapers, job-matching by the Labour Department for four weeks, and tailor-made retraining course for workers, if appropriate. In all, 758 visas/entry permits were approved during the year and a cumulative total of 10 324 visas/entry permit applications had been approved by year-end.

Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals

The new Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals was implemented on July 15, 2003, replacing the Admission of Talents Scheme and the Admission of Mainland Professionals Scheme. The new scheme aligns the conditions for admitting Mainland people for employment with those applicable to foreigners. It aims at attracting talented persons and professionals to work in Hong Kong in order to meet local manpower needs and enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness in the globalised market. (Further details of this scheme are given in Chapter 20).

Admission of Mainland Students Graduated from University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded Institutions in Hong Kong

With effect from August 1, 2001, Mainland students who have graduated from UGC-funded institutions since 1990 may be admitted for employment, provided that they possess a special skill, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong and are employed with a remuneration broadly commensurate with the market level. The objective of this arrangement is to attract outstanding Mainland students who have completed full-time studies at the bachelor degree level or above to re-enter Hong Kong for employment after graduation so as to increase the territory's competitiveness in the knowledge-based global economy.

Foreign Domestic Helpers

Foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) may be admitted subject to the conditions that they have relevant experience, that their employers are bona fide Hong Kong residents who are prepared to offer reasonable terms of employment including suitable accommodation and wages not lower than a minimum level set by the Government, and that the employers are willing to provide for the maintenance of the helpers in Hong Kong as well as to meet the costs of repatriation of the helpers to their country of origin. Employers must also satisfy requirements on income and assets.

In general, demand for FDHs has increased over the past two decades but the number decreased in 2003. By year-end, there were 216 863 such helpers in Hong Kong, a decrease of 8.5 per cent compared with the number of 237 104 in 2002. About 58.4 per cent of the FDHs in Hong Kong were from the Philippines and 37.4 per cent from Indonesia.

Following a review of the policy on FDHs in the context of formulating a population policy, the Government has imposed an Employees Retraining Levy of $400 per month for the contract period on the employers of FDHs to generate funds for training and retraining the local workforce. The levy, imposed under the Employees Retraining Ordinance, took effect on October 1, 2003.

Home Pages

Home Pages Economic Development and Labour Bureau: http://www.edlb.gov.hk

Education and Manpower Bureau: http://www.emb.gov.hk

Security Bureau: http://www.gov.hk/sb

Labour Department: http://www.labour.gov.hk

Occupational Safety and Health Council: http://www.oshc.org.hk

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