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.
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.
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).
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 (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.