The times they are a changin’…
The National Security Law – Impact On Hong Kong Visa & Immigration Applications
It is inevitable that the National Security Law will impact how the Hong Kong Immigration Department will undertake their duties as the front line guardians of our borders.
As is all things Hong Kong immigration, ImmD do not publish any updates on their website or to a government gazette setting out how policy is to be implemented from time to time.
Consequently, it is only through the observations of patterns in their decision making and case management practices, that we can glean changes under way.
This is what we have come to understand and which now guides the advice we give to our clients and in some instances has changed our approach to taking on client case work subject to a double-your-money-back-guarantee.
Increased Diligence – All Types of Cases
(1) Cases taking longer – COVID interruptions aside most cases are taking 2~3 weeks longer that the usual stated time frame indicated by ImmD.
(2) Documentation requests – more detailed information, heightened elaboration on arcane points being called for.
(3) Language instructors’ employment visa applications being frequently refused with ImmD citing a high unemployment rate amongst local graduates from english-as-teaching-medium Universities in Hong Kong – and extensions of stay for current teachers are often being refused too.
(4) ImmD routinely scrutinising the extent to which the local labour market has been tested before offering work to a foreign national.
Entry Business Investment (Entrepreneur) Visas
(5) The test for approval has always been ‘substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong‘. In the last few weeks, we have received refusal decisions for several cases which 2 years ago were complete shoo-ins. At this moment in time, it is hard to glean exactly where ImmD sit as regards what it now takes to secure such an Entrepreneur visa for a non-resident applicant. Previously, ImmD were prepared to offer the ‘benefit of the doubt’ to Entrepreneur visa applicants who had a strong business plan, sufficient funding resources and a clear pathway to the creation of local employment opportunities. But with the borders closed to visitors these last 12 months and there being no way for foreign national entrepreneurs to get here to start working on implementing their plan BEFORE approval of their Entrepreneur visa applications, it is all but impossible to create the requisite ‘new facts on the ground’ which ImmD need to see prior to being satisfied of the applicant’s ability to contribute substantially to Hong Kong’s economy. Understandably, with COVID still a problem, no visitor access to Hong Kong and the uncertainty of eventual visa availability, offshore Entrepreneur visa applicants are reluctant to take on the significant burden of employing Hong Kong locals ahead of their visa approval.
(6) Current residents seeking to move into this status do not appear to be impacted in the same way.
Foreign Domestic Helpers
(7) FDH’s are held on a very short leash in any event but news reports indicate that ImmD have been clamping down on FDH Job Hoppers. With the borders closed and flights few and far between due to Covid, many helpers here have suddenly found themselves readily marketable and have been tempted to try to cancel their present contracts to move to other employers mid-engagement. ImmD have set up a specific unit to address these activities.