Hong Kong: Visa system review expected to result in stricter standards and reduced processing times

The Hong Kong Immigration Department (HKID) has agreed to implement the recommendations of the Audit Commission, which will likely affect the adjudication of applications in the General Employment Policy, Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) and Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG) schemes. Although there has not been a formal announcement of the implementation of these recommendations, employers should be prepared for stricter adjudication standards in effect immediately.

Stricter Application Standards

Immigration authorities plan to use stricter adjudication standards when assessing the following areas of visa applications:

  • Local worker recruitment methods;
  • Market level remuneration rates; and
  • Authenticity verification methods for supporting documents of IANG applications.

Key Upcoming Changes

Other key recommendations that the HKID will likely implement include the following:

  • Incorporating a list of skills to which the HKID would give preference in order to attract qualified foreign workers to apply for QMAS visas;
  • Ensuring that processing times for many visa categories, including the investor stream, are not prolonged by government requests;
  • Enhancing the security capabilities of HKID’s electronic immigration information systems. 

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers should be prepared for stricter application standards, and should benefit from reduced processing times and enhanced technological capabilities of the HKID computer database.

Employers should contact their immigration professional to discuss how the stricter standards will impact their employee remuneration levels and/or local worker recruitment rules.