has been noted in recent times that there is a somewhat lax attitude
towards obtaining entry visas in a timely fashion, with many individuals
and corporations flouting the Immigration Ordinance and violating
conditions of stay. This
carries a serious risk with heavy fines and imprisonment being the
penalty for both individuals and companies alike.
we are sure that the majority of Hong Kong’s major companies and their
relevant departments are aware of the requirements of the
Hong Kong Immigration
department in respect of employment in Hong Kong, we would like to point
out that a firmer stance is being taken by the Hong Kong Immigration
Department regarding the application process for employing overseas
visa applications may take up to three months from time of submission.
This processing period can quite easily stretch to four months and longer
in the event that documentation as required by the Hong Kong Immigration
Department is not submitted in a timely manner. Some of our experiences
have shown that from the time of offering candidates a position of employment,
candidates and sponsors have
taken as long as five weeks to provide the documentation required by
the Immigration Department in its entirety. This practice only causes
delays to the visa process. An
effective system such as those employed by ESL,
along with production of all relevant documentation enables us to obtain
approval for visas in a 2 to 4 week period. We believe this will assist
our clients greatly in being able to get essential staff on board in
the time frame specified, maximising the efficiency of their resource
of Status Applications
late 1998 the Immigration Department issued an announcement stating they
are taking a tougher stance on change of status applications in a bid to
curb overstaying and illegal workers.
These tougher measures have been encouraged in a effort to
minimise unemployment and to alleviate pressure caused by Hong Kong’s
growing population. Statistics show that approximately half the
employment and dependent visa applications received by the Immigration
Department are from applicants already in Hong Kong. The Immigration
Department had sought to change policies before the handover,
eliminating the mechanism by which a change of status application could
be effected, but this was rebuffed by the security branch of the British
administration. Should such
a policy change come into effect, worker’s would be forced to apply
two to three months in advance of their arrival rather than arriving and
starting work, a practice tolerated by immigration officials in the past
to give employers flexibility.
However, we must stress that this practice is illegal and subject
to fines and imprisonment for both employers and employees alike.
are now required by law to inspect both Hong Kong identity cards and
travel documents of prospective employees who are not permanent identity
card holders to ensure they may be employed lawfully.
Immigration Department levies heavy fines on illegal workers and
employers as a deterrent. Under Section 41 of the Immigration ordinance,
any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of
him/her will be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction
to a fine of HK$50,000.00 and imprisonment for two years.
any person who is not lawfully employable is an offence under Section
171 of the Immigration Ordinance. The maximum penalty is a fine of
HK$350,000.00 and/or imprisonment for three years.
Immigration Department highlighted a recent judgment of the Court of
Appeal, which held that the tariff of 15 months imprisonment would be
applied to all employers who employ persons illegally, irrespective of
the status of the job seeker. In other words, employers of visitors,
contract workers or illegal immigrants are liable to the same immediate
of Employer / Change of Sponsor
of current employment visas are required to apply for a transfer of
employer / change of sponsor prior to commencing a new position. Until
this transfer is approved, the employee may not take up his new
position. Doing so would render the employee and the employer in
contravention of the Immigration Ordinance and subject to the fines and
prison sentences outlined above.