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Hong Kong Immigration Policy Enhancements October 2022

October 24th, 2022

Posted in Employment Visas, Feature Article, Resource, Sherpa, The Hong Kong Visa Geeza /


Hong Kong Immigration Policy Enhancements October 2022.

An interesting turn up for the books last week, when the Chief Executive gave his maiden policy address where he laid out certain Enhancements to our immigration policy which are designed to both attract foreign businesses to Hong Kong and also prescribed Talents.

We apparently had a hundred and forty thousand talents leave Hong Kong in recent times – that’ll be a mixture of foreign nationals who were here contributing to our economy prior to the riots and obviously due to Covid and also our local young people have left too, 110,000, I think we’ve lost over the last two or three years to jurisdictions such as Canada, Australia and especially the UK BNO programme.

So all good stuff going to go all out for Hong Kong.

So what has he said? What have we got?

Well, there’s going to be certain new government bureaux. We’re all set up specifically to provide support to International Enterprises from certain particular sectors, that are deemed to be attractive to Hong Kong and form part of our economic development policy roadmap and the government is going to be active both in Hong Kong and overseas.

The government are also going to reach out to the top 100 universities in the world to try to fish for talent directly from those universities.

Morever, there’s  going to be the establishment of a kind of a co- investment programme to facilitate an attractive proposition for businesses internationally, that are in certain sectors to come and get themselves set up in Hong Kong and obviously facilitating the Talent that will be necessary to give effect to the underlying rationale to those plans.

So that’s kind of the big-picture-attracting-intentions, if you will, intended to attract – so what have we got?

The Immigration Department is  to going to enhance some of the existing immigration programs which I’ll deal with now and also introduce a new program called the Top Talent Pass Scheme.

So what have we got in terms of Enhancements to the existing programs?

Well under the General Employment Policy and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents  & Professionals the Immigration Department will soon be granting three-year limits of stay out of the Starting Gate after initial approval as opposed to the normal two-year limit of stay.

Moreover, if an applicant under the General Employment Policy or the Admission Scheme For Mainland Talents & Professionals who is on the Talent List presently found in the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (that’s going to be updated by the end of this quarter, by the way) but if they’re in one of the 13 employment sectors in the Top Talent List, and they can show that they had a two million Hong Kong Dollar prior year salary there will be no requirement for the testing of the local labor market in relation to those applications for that status.

So, interesting update in terms of the Admissions Scheme For Mainland Talents  & Professionals and also the General Employment Policy.

Secondly, there are going to be enhancements to the Quality  Migrants Admission Scheme (as the ‘Top Notch Talent  Scheme’  as Tung Chee Wah once quoted) the Scheme has been struggling I think in terms of its overall  objectives down the years because of its limited scope and the fixed Quotas and the amount of time that it usually takes to get approved under the QMAS program.

The enhancements are going to remove the Quotas so it’ll be open to all-comers which is interesting and also that the process is going to be sped up so that definitely gives us another arm to our immigration processes that will enable visas to be had and to get Talent here more quickly.

ImmD are also going to do an Enhancement to the Technology Talent Admissions Scheme, which I always thought was a bit of a dog’s breakfast. It still is because of the fact that it’s kind of anchored to research organizations  and institutions that are government accredited in Hong Kong, but one of the killers to that program in my view, in terms of its wider accessibility and availability to most businesses in fact was that there was a kind of a contingent local recruitment component to the program which is now being removed. That’s all good.

Another Enhancement was announced under the Immigration Arrangements For Non-Local Graduates programme This now means that all Fresh Graduates (these are those who have student visas

who have just finished their formal course of studies in a Registered Tertiary Education Institute in Hong Kong and so are seeking to move into the workforce) can now secure a no-questions-asked-used-to-be-one-year-employment- visa under the IANG programme. That’s being upped to  two years.

There’s also an Enhancement to IANG extended to the Hong Kong University Greater Bay Area Campus which is in Shenzhen now extending to graduates from that campus too and so can now automatically qualify under the Immigration Arrangements For Non-local Graduates, that’s a new addition, so that’s good.

The Newcomer on the Block is the Top Talent Pass Scheme.

What this basically means is that if you’re of a particular Professional standing you can come to Hong Kong and get a two-year visa without a job offer.

Essentially you need to have graduated from one of the Top 100 Universities that are listed as part of the QMAS program which provides extra points for  qualification under the QMAS scheme.

If you have graduated from one of the Top 100 universities, and in the last 12 months, you’ve had a mean average salary worth two and a half  million Hong Kong dollars and you’ve got three years post-graduation  working experience, then you can qualify for a no-employer-required-employment visa under the Top Talent Pass and there’s no quota associated with this programme.

So those are the bare bone details that I’ve got at the moment. The government will be releasing more details in the next few days and weeks, I’ll update my website and the Hong Kong Visa Handbook accordingly once we know what the nitty-gritty of it all is.

So that’s it – good news for Hong Kong, good news for immigration practitioners too and lots of  new stuff going on. Lots of new advice to impart, and plenty, hopefully, of new people to assist.

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The Hong Kong Visa Geeza (a.k.a Stephen Barnes) is a co-founder of the Hong Kong Visa Centre and author of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook. A law graduate of the London School of Economics, Stephen has been practicing Hong Kong immigration since 1993 and is widely acknowledged as the leading authority on business immigration matters here for the last 24 years.

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