HONG KONG: Audit Commission Revise Immigration Rules

In April, the Hong Kong Audit Commission (HKAC) released a report concerning the Hong Kong Immigration Department”s operational performance over a 10 year period. The report concluded that certain aspects would need to be improved upon and recommended a series of changes to the government.

Many believe that the visa application process for Hong Kong has been too accommodating towards applicants in previous years, with many assuming their application will get approved even without providing sufficient documentation.

The recent report by the HKAC concluded that the flexibility of the application process has devalued the role of the immigration department. In order to begin to rectify the flaws in place in the current system, the following changes have been recommended and subsequently accepted by the government:

Visas for Professionals and Non-local Graduates

  • Visa applications must be completed at the point of submission providing immigration officers the chance to meet their performance requirements of finalising 90% of cases within the four week pledge time.

  • The immigration authority will issue guidelines to set out clearly the required procedures for considering availability of local employees and market level of remuneration in processing employment and ASMTP visa applications.

  • Controls will be tightened over the verification of the authenticity of supporting documents submitted by Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduate (“IANG”) applicants.

  • Strictly require a minimum period of 12 month prior employment before recognizing an intra-company transfer application.

Visas for Business Investors (Entrepreneurs)

  • Applications must be complete at the point of submission enabling immigration officers the potential to meet their performance requirements of finalizing 90% of cases within the four week pledge time.

  • Control of extensions of stay and consistency of Business Review will be tightened up.

It is important that all travellers are aware of these changes, whilst also being prepared for potential delays in processing times as the new rules are implemented.

If you are concerned as to how the recent report into Hong Kong visa applications may affect you, or for assistance with visa applications for the region, please contact Newland Chase at enquries@newlandchase.com.

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