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Following is a summary of the Immigration Department’s major activities delivered by the Director of Immigration, Mr Chan Kwok-ki, at the department’s year-end briefing 2011 today (January 20):
The year 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the Immigration Department. “Devoted We Serve; Together We Excel”, the thematic slogan for the anniversary celebrations, has succinctly captured our determination in serving the public. To commemorate the exact date of our establishment, a time capsule-laying ceremony was held at the Immigration Service Institute of Training and Development on August 4, 2011. Other anniversary activities included the golden jubilee grand parade, a cocktail reception and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque, and the naming and topping-out ceremony of the departmental staff quarters. In addition, the Department and Radio Television Hong Kong co-produced a TV programme, “Beyond Gatekeeping”, which was broadcast in October 2011 to show the changes of the Department, the challenges it has faced and its contributions to the security and prosperity of Hong Kong over the past 50 years.
Last year, the Immigration Department was awarded the Gold Award of the Crisis/Incident Support Service Team Award, the Gold Award of the Regulatory/Enforcement Service Team Award and the Merit Award of the Service Enhancement Award (Large Department) under the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme 2011 organised by the Civil Service Bureau. Further to the Grand Award (Public Organisations) of the Ombudsman Awards received by the Department in 1999, 2008 and 2010, two colleagues also received Ombudsman’s Awards 2011 for Officers of Public Organisations, making 2011 the 13th consecutive year that our officers had been selected as recipients of the Awards. In addition, five members of the Department were commended in the Secretary for the Civil Service’s Commendation Award in recognition of their consistently meritorious performance. It was the eighth consecutive year that our officers had been commended since the introduction of the Award Scheme in 2004. We were also very pleased to be the recipient of the Caring Organisation Logo for the fifth consecutive year, as awarded by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service. All the above achievements were given in recognition of our staff’s sustained, concerted efforts in providing quality services to the public. High ratings in a host of public surveys indicate the Department’s success in serving the community. Throughout the years, the Immigration Department has been committed to enhancing its service performance. We shall continue to strive with professionalism, and to forge ahead with our vision to be the foremost immigration service in the world in effectiveness and efficiency.
Traffic at control points
The Control Branch experienced another busy year of passenger traffic in 2011. Some 253 million passengers passed through our control points, representing an increase of 5.2 per cent as compared with 2010. The total number of visitor arrivals reached 41.93 million, representing a 16.3 per cent increase as compared with 2010, among which 11.03 million passengers travelled through the Airport Control Point, while 26.43 million passengers and 4.47 million passengers passed through land boundary control points and sea control points respectively.
With further development of economic and social connections between the Mainland and Hong Kong and the relaxation of the Individual Visit Scheme, the passenger traffic at the control points, particularly Mainland visitors, has kept on increasing over the years. In 2011, the daily average for Mainland visitors was 76 389, which was 24.1 per cent higher than the figure in 2010 (61 551). At the Shenzhen Bay and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Points, the daily figures for arriving Mainland visitors increased more than 40 per cent as compared with 2010. Mainland visitors entering Hong Kong through the Lo Wu, airport, Macau Ferry Terminal and China Ferry Terminal control points also recorded 18 per cent to 32 per cent increases as compared with 2010.
The Individual Visit Scheme has been expanded to cover 49 Mainland cities since its introduction in July 2003. Starting from April 2009, individual visit exit endorsements valid for one year and good for multiple visits have been issued to eligible Shenzhen residents visiting Hong Kong. Over the past year, the number of Mainland visitors travelling on this type of exit endorsement increased drastically. In 2010, the daily average of this category of Mainland visitor was 11 100, while in 2011, the daily average increased by 50 per cent to 16 900.
The passenger traffic at the Sky Pier in 2011 was over 2.52 million, which was 12.8 per cent higher than the figure in 2010 (2.24 million).
Operation of control points
Diversion of traffic at boundary control points
The Shenzhen Bay Control Point (SBCP) is the first boundary control point providing co-location of boundary crossing facilities for both passenger and vehicular traffic between the Mainland and Hong Kong. In 2011, 25.06 million passengers and 3.48 million vehicles travelled through the SBCP, representing increases of 17.2 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively when compared with 2010. Peak daily traffic of 106 526 passengers was recorded on April 24, 2011.
Passenger traffic at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point (LMCSCP) has grown steadily since its commissioning. The daily average passenger figure rose at a faster pace in 2011, from about 89 500 in early 2011 to over 106 000 at the end of 2011, representing an increase of 18.4 per cent. In 2011, more than 34.1 million passengers travelled through the LMCSCP and the highest daily traffic of 135 092 passengers was recorded on December 17, 2011.
In 2011, the SBCP and the LMCSCP shared 13.14 per cent and 17.93 per cent of the overall land boundary passenger traffic respectively. The SBCP took up 22.3 per cent of the overall vehicular traffic. The two control points helped alleviate the pressure on other boundary control points like Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau, and simultaneously improved our service standard.
Facilitation of people movement
Assistance to Cross-boundary Students
The average daily number of cross-boundary students (CBS) under 11 years of age passing through boundary control points is rising in the 2011-12 school year, which has reached around 17 000 (in and out figures). Designated counters have been reserved during peak hours to expedite the clearance of CBS. Six designated e-Channels for CBS have also been put into operation at the Lo Wu Control Point.
To further assist cross-boundary students to travel between the Mainland and Hong Kong, the Administration approved special quotas for coach operators to run door-to-door cross-boundary coaches for students using the Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok and Shenzhen Bay control points. Cross-boundary students passing through the Sha Tau Kok Control Point also benefited from the implementation of the on-board clearance trial scheme and enjoyed speedy and safe clearance.
Assistance to Macao residents
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Macao Special Administrative Region governments reached an agreement, with effect from December 10, 2009, to extend the automated passenger clearance service (e-Channels) to permanent residents of both Hong Kong and Macao and to exempt their residents from furnishing arrival/departure cards. As at December 31, 2011, around 797 000 Hong Kong residents and 158 000 Macao residents had successfully enrolled for the e-Channel service. A daily average of about 1 864 Macao residents using e-Channels in Hong Kong was recorded, representing around 50.7 per cent of the total Macao resident traffic. To further enhance the service to Macao residents, four additional Macao e-Channels have been installed at the Macau Ferry Terminal since July 2010, making a total of eight Macao e-Channels at this control point. At the China Ferry Terminal, four Macao e-Channels are installed for visits by Macao residents. At the TuenMun Ferry Terminal, six Macao e-Channels have been installed since July 6, 2011.
Admission of Talent and Investors
Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
The ASMTP has attracted a wide variety of qualified talents and professionals from the Mainland to come to work in Hong Kong since its implementation on July 15, 2003. Up to the end of 2011, a total of 57 062 entry applications for employment have been received. The main sectors of employment were academic research and education, arts and culture, and commerce and trade. In 2011, 8 088 applications were approved, representing an increase of 8.6 per cent when compared with 7 445 applications in 2010.
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)
Under the QMAS launched in June 2006, talented people from around the world can apply to settle in Hong Kong without first securing an offer of local employment. Up to the end of 2011, 6 719 applications were received. Twenty-one selection exercises were conducted and 2 094 applicants were allotted places – 1 934 under the General Points Test (GPT) and 160 under the Achievement-based Points Test (APT). Successful applicants under the GPT were mainly from financial and accounting services, information technology and telecommunications, and commerce and trade. Under the APT, successful applicants mainly came from the sports and the arts and culture sectors.
Changes have been made to the scheme since January 2008 to attract more aspiring young talents as well as professionals with significant accomplishments and proven ability. These changes include lifting the upper age limit and adjusting the marking scheme under the GPT. From February 2008 to December 2011, the average monthly applications intake was 115, a substantial increase when compared with the average monthly intake of 67 before the changes. It indicates that the changes have been effective in attracting more quality migrants.
Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES)
The CIES was launched in October 2003 with the objective of facilitating the entry for residence of capital investment entrants, i.e. persons who wish to make capital investment in Hong Kong but would not be engaged in the running of any business here. The entrant is allowed to make his choice of investments among permissible assets without the need to establish or join in a business.
Since March 16, 2009, applicants under the CIES have been able to, at their own cost, engage a Certified Public Accountant (Practising), who is a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants, to issue a report to demonstrate that they meet the asset requirement under paragraph 2.1(b) of the Scheme Rules. The arrangement is optional and will not affect the result of their application. At the end of 2011, 8 019 applicants had submitted applications with the CPA report, amounting to around 62 per cent of the new applications received, and 6 202 of them were granted Approval-in-principle or Formal Approval.
In 2010, the Government reviewed and amended the rules of the CIES in order to ensure that the Scheme is up to date and would continue to serve the best overall interests of Hong Kong. The following amendments were introduced to the CIES with effect from October 14, 2010:
(i) the threshold of investment (and net assets/net equity requirement) for admission to Hong Kong under the CIES is raised from $6.5 million to $10 million;
(ii) real estate is suspended temporarily as a class of Permissible Investment Assets (PIA) under the CIES; and
(iii) an insurer authorised to carry on Class C business as specified in Part 2 of the First Schedule to the Insurance Companies Ordinance is permitted to act as a financial intermediary for the purpose of the CIES.
The investment threshold (and net assets/net equity requirement) and the arrangement of temporarily suspending real estate as a class of PIA will be reviewed in 2013, or earlier as necessary.
At the end of 2011, 19 984 applications had been received. A total of 13 111 applicants had made the requisite investments and were given formal approval to reside in Hong Kong. They invested a total of HK$94.9 billion in permissible investment assets, representing an average of HK$7.24 million per entrant. A total of 2 306 applicants were given approval-in-principle to enter Hong Kong to make the requisite investments. The monthly average of applications received was 282 in 2011.
Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG)
The IANG was launched on May 19, 2008, to complement the policy initiative “Developing Hong Kong as a Regional Education Hub”. The objective of the IANG is to attract non-local graduates to stay/return and work in Hong Kong to strengthen Hong Kong’s human resources and competitiveness and enhance Hong Kong’s attractiveness to non-local students.
The Arrangements have been well received since they were launched. As at the end of 2011, 15 359 non-local graduates had been approved to stay/return and work in Hong Kong.
Facilitation measures on visa arrangements
Facilitation arrangements for Taiwan residents visiting Hong Kong
To further enhance the travel convenience of Taiwan residents, with effect from September 1, 2011, the period of stay in Hong Kong for Taiwan residents holding a valid Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents, commonly known as “Tai BaoZheng”, was extended from seven days to 30 days.
Contingency arrangement for March 11 Japan earthquake
Following the tragic earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent tsunami and radiation leakage, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau received a number of enquiries from local financial sector and multinational financial enterprises requesting the Government to provide special arrangements for expediting the process of work permits for relocating their expatriate staff from Japan to Hong Kong. The Department responded promptly by implementing streamlined procedures starting from March 17, 2011, which significantly shortened the processing time of such applications from four to six weeks to two working days. The special arrangement was also extended to applications for residence from the dependants of these expatriate staff. The cumulative number of visa applications received under this special arrangement was 350, including 220 applications for employment and 130 applications for residence as accompanying dependants. All applications were approved after assessment.
Relaxation of entry policy for nationals of Albania
With effect from January 1, 2012, nationals of Albania may apply to enter Hong Kong for employment (under the General Employment Policy, the Supplementary Labour Scheme and as foreign domestic helpers), for training and for residence as dependants, as well as under the CIES and QMAS.
Appointment booking services for registration of identity card
The appointment booking services through the Internet and Telephone Appointment Booking System were well received by the public. In 2011, 56 per cent of identity card applicants made use of the Internet appointment booking services while 10 per cent of identity card applicants used the 24-hour Telephone Appointment Booking System. The remaining 34 per cent were walk-in applicants. To cater for the needs of the public, the walk-in quota will be suitably adjusted according to the daily appointment situation at each Registration of Persons Office. Installation of computer equipment at the Registration of Persons Offices and Immigration Branch Offices was completed to assist applicants who are unable to obtain walk-in quota places to make an online appointment on the spot. While promotion of the services including radio and television broadcasts has been arranged, we will continue to enhance our system to provide better appointment booking services to the public.
Enforcement actions against illegal employment
In 2011, 11 463 operations against illegal employment were conducted, with 5 621 suspected illegal workers and 910 employers being arrested.
After the commencement of the Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance 2009 on November 14, 2009, the Department continued to strengthen law enforcement action in combating illegal employment to act as a deterrent for those who may intend to seek illegal entry into Hong Kong to seek illegal employment. Between November 14, 2009 and December 31, 2011, 364 illegal workers were arrested for breaching the amended ordinance.
The Department put in a concerted effort to combat offences involving false contracts for applying for foreign domestic helper visas. In August 2011, the Department successfully cracked down on a syndicate using false residential and financial documents to apply for employment visas for foreign domestic helpers. In the operation, over 100 suspected forged documents were seized and two main culprits of the syndicate were arrested. They were charged with relevant offences and are now awaiting court trial. In addition, a number of foreign domestic helpers who had obtained an employment visa by fraudulent means were arrested. Among the four convicted foreign domestic helpers, one was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and the sentencing of the other three was adjourned to early February 2012.
Deterrence of global illegal migration activities
The Department has for years worked together with international and local law enforcement agencies to combat global illegal migration and document fraud. The Anti-Illegal Migration Agency was set up to investigate cases involving HKSAR passports.
The latest intelligence reveals that syndicates continue to smuggle illegal migrants into overseas countries by circuitous routes. In the past, illegal migrants travelled to their countries of choice as directly as possible. Currently, to circumvent the strict immigration control in Hong Kong, smuggling-ring members arrange for illegal migrants to take detours to a number of transit ports, so that they may seek illegal entry into their destination country through these transit ports using forged passports procured overseas.
The Department has adopted a proactive approach against such transnational crime by conducting joint operations with international and local law enforcement agencies. In January 2011, a joint operation was conducted by the Department and the Hong Kong Police Force to combat document fraud and boarding pass swap activities. In May 2011, another joint operation was conducted by the Department and the Hong Kong Police Force to apprehend passport brokers and passport sellers. Furthermore, in September 2011, the Department conducted a special operation at Hong Kong International Airport, with the participation of local consulate representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, and with Macao police officers as advisers or observers. These three operations were successful, leading to the apprehension of 19 immigration offenders, including a forgery user, a passport broker, boarding pass swappers, HKSAR passport sellers and former airline ground staff.
Combating forged travel documents and forged smart Hong Kong identity cards
The Department has spared no effort in combating travel document forgery. The number of operations against forgery activities increased from 25 038 in 2010 to 25 985 in 2011. The deterrent effect was obvious. The number of forged travel documents detected decreased by 36 per cent from 1 299 in 2010 to 829 in 2011. The Department is committed to getting to the root of the problem by smashing syndicates. To this end, we will conduct thorough investigations on users in order to trace the source.
Since June 2003, 10 million smart identity cards have been issued, but only 2 767 forged smart Hong Kong identity cards have been detected. In 2011, 228 forged smart Hong Kong identity cards were detected, down 39 per cent when compared to 372 in 2010. The majority of forged identity cards detected were used by illegal workers and were of poor quality, and could be easily distinguished from genuine cards.
To prevent the use of forged identity cards for illicit purposes, the Department will continue to deliver talks on the security features of smart Hong Kong identity cards and advise security personnel in the private and government sectors who are required to handle identity cards in their work.
Bogus marriages uncovered
The Department has been very concerned about non-Hong Kong residents staying in Hong Kong via the means of bogus marriage. A special task force has been set up to gather intelligence through various avenues and thorough investigation will be conducted once evidence comes to light. If there is sufficient evidence, those involved will be prosecuted.
To further combat bogus marriage cases, the Marriage Registries have since mid-July 2011 stepped up checking any suspected cases, while the Investigation Sub-division has also initiated investigation into any suspected bogus marriages. With the new measures in place, a number of suspect cases were swiftly detected and the persons involved were convicted of relevant offences. As at December 31, 2011, a total of 55 suspicious cases had been exposed while 33 Hong Kong residents and Mainland residents were apprehended. Among them, five were charged with the suspected offences and convicted, and they were sentenced to four to 14 months’ imprisonment. Furthermore, in December 2011 a syndicate arranging cross-boundary bogus marriages was smashed by the Department during a large-scale operation codenamed “Flashspear”. In this operation, a total of 19 Hong Kong residents including two syndicate members were arrested. In addition, a large amount of evidence, such as computers and documents relating to bogus marriage, was seized.
In 2011, 84 Mainland residents and 179 Hong Kong residents were convicted of offences relating to bogus marriages. The 263 people convicted were sentenced to jail terms ranging from four to 32 months.
Torture claim assessment
Pursuant to court rulings in the past few years, the Administration has enhanced the administrative screening mechanism for torture claims and an enhanced mechanism has been relaunched since December 24, 2009. In 2011, a total of 1 432 torture claim cases (involving 1 432 people) were received – down 20.8 per cent compared with 1 809 cases (involving 1 809 people) in 2010. The majority of the claimants came from South Asian countries. As at December 31, 2011, the Department had processed over 2 182 claims under the enhanced mechanism, of which 92 per cent were provided with publicly funded legal assistance. Of those, decisions were made on 1 146 claims. At present, the number of outstanding claims is 6 447.
During the year, some legally aided torture claimants launched various legal challenges against enforcement actions and policies of the Administration. There were judicial review applications challenging, inter alia, the Administration’s policy of not granting extension of stay to torture claimants and not allowing the screened-in torture claimants to work in Hong Kong. The ruling of the court upholds the Government’s policy of not granting extension of stay to torture claimants and not allowing screened-in torture claimants and mandated refugees to take up employment generally. Furthermore, the new Section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, which came into effect on November 14, 2009, provides that it is an offence for any illegal immigrants or any persons under a removal order or a deportation order to take any paid or unpaid employment, or to establish or join in any business. As at December 31, 2011, 2 311 torture claims had been withdrawn and the subjects had voluntarily requested repatriation to their places of origin.
In addition, the Administration introduced the Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2011 to the Legislative Council on July 8, 2011, to underpin the enhanced screening mechanism in the proposed legislation in order to maintain high standards of fairness and to help reduce procedural abuse (e.g. claimants deploying delaying tactics by spreading out submission of evidence over a long period of time, repeated absence from interviews, reopening of claims after withdrawal, making subsequent new claims before removal, making false representations, etc), thus reducing the chances of legal challenges and abuse in the mechanism.
Takeover of management and operation of Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC)
The CIC is an immigration detention facility for immigration offenders (18 years old or above) awaiting repatriation, removal or deportation in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance. The CIC commenced operations in 2005. Owing to the manpower situation at that time, the Department and the Correctional Services Department (CSD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which the CSD would manage the CIC for a period of five years. Pursuant to the MOU, the management and operation of the CIC was taken over by the Department from the CSD on April 15, 2010. The operation of the CIC has been running smoothly since the takeover. As at December 31, 2011, there were 332 detainees held in the CIC.
During the year, 575 867 HKSAR passports were issued, representing an increase of 8.55 per cent compared with the total of 530 485 passports issued in 2010.
Visa-free access for HKSAR passport holders
At present, including the recent additions of Serbia and Albania to the list, 144 countries and territories have granted visa-free access or visa on arrival to holders of HKSAR passports. The Department will continue to lobby for visa-free access for HKSAR passport holders to visit more countries and territories.
Visa-free access for nationals of Serbia and Albania visiting Hong Kong
To provide greater travel convenience and to promote trade, business and tourism links between Hong Kong and other countries, agreements on mutual abolition of visa requirements were reached between the HKSAR Government and the respective governments of Serbia and Albania in 2011. With effect from November 2011, HKSAR passport holders can visit Serbia visa-free for a stay of up to 14 days. Likewise, nationals of Serbia holding Serbian biometric passports (except holders of Serbian passports issued by the Coordination Directorate in Belgrade) may also visit Hong Kong visa-free for a stay of up to 14 days with effect from November 14, 2011.
With effect from January 1, 2012, HKSAR passport holders can visit Albania visa-free for a stay up to 14 days. Likewise, nationals of Albania holding Albanian biometric passports have also been able to visit Hong Kong visa-free for a stay up to 14 days with effect from the same day.
Assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong
The Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) works closely with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our diplomatic and consular missions overseas, the Office of the HKSAR Government in Beijing (Beijing Office), the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Guangdong and other government departments to provide assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong. In 2011, 4 045 requests were handled.
Major incidents outside Hong Kong
In 2011, several major incidents occurred involving a number of Hong Kong residents outside Hong Kong, namely the political unrest in Egypt (January), flooding in Queensland (January to February), the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand (February), the earthquake and tsunami in the northeast of Japan (March), Hong Kong reporters stranded in Tripoli, Libya (August), and the traffic accidents involving Hong Kong group tours in Beijing (October) and Jilin (December). Following these accidents, the AHU worked closely with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, the relevant Chinese diplomatic and consular missions, the Beijing Office, the HKETOs in Sydney and Tokyo, and other government departments to provide all feasible assistance to the affected Hong Kong residents and their family members.
Registration of Outbound Travel Information (ROTI)
On December 6, 2010, the ROTI service was launched to enable Hong Kong residents to register their contact details and itineraries outside Hong Kong before setting out on their trips. The information provided can help the AHU of the Immigration Department to contact and help Hong Kong residents in the event of an emergency outside Hong Kong. ROTI registrants will receive updates on Outbound Travel Alerts (OTAs) and related public information via MyGovHK, and, depending on the situation, via SMS on a mobile phone.
The Department has been working with the Security Bureau and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer to enhance the ROTI service. With effect from December 12, 2011, the registrants can, in addition to using their My Messages box at MyGovHK, receive the OTAs and related public information via their registered Internet email address. To further enhance the service, the registrants may choose to enter their overseas mobile phone number and receive SMS via their registered overseas mobile phone with effect from mid-February 2012. This enhanced function provides a convenient and cost-effective service to those Hong Kong residents who are studying or working overseas without using the roaming services of their mobile phones.
1868 Telephone System
In December 2010, the 1868 telephone hotline was enhanced, including the addition of an automatic call distribution function and enhancing case management functions for more effective assistance to callers. In 2011, a total of 193 368 calls involving 4 045 requests for assistance cases were handled by the system. In addition, the Immigration Department has set up an emergency reinforcement team with appropriate training provided so that more staff can be deployed to answer emergency calls and public enquiries, or be sent to the countries or places in question to provide prompt assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress. After the earthquake and tsunami in the northeast of Japan in March 2011, more than 1,000 officers were deployed to the Call Centre for answering telephone calls for assistance. A total of 7 307 telephone enquiries and 2 045 request for assistance cases were handled.
Civil Celebrants of Marriages Scheme
The Civil Celebrants of Marriages Scheme was launched on March 13, 2006. By the end of 2011, a total of 1 842 lawyers and notary publics had been appointed as civil celebrants. They have so far given a total of 118 633 marriage notices, representing 38.1 per cent of total applications, whereas a total of 118 167 marriages have been solemnised by them, representing 40.3 per cent of total marriage registrations.
The Department will continue to monitor the services provided by civil celebrants and review the running of the scheme to ensure that people are able to enjoy flexible, diversified and satisfactory marriage solemnisation services.
Recruitment of service staff
In 2011, a total of 160 Immigration Assistants were appointed. All of them have already joined the workforce after induction training. Two open recruitment exercises, one for Immigration Officers and one for Immigration Assistants, were conducted in the year. For the Immigration Officers, in addition to 131 new recruits who have joined the workforce in 2011, the appointment formalities for selected candidates will be concluded shortly. For the Immigration Assistants, the relevant selection procedures are in active progress. To meet the demand for manpower resources, we will recruit about 285 staff (including about 230 Immigration Officers and 55 Immigration Assistants) in the 2012-13 financial year to fill the vacancies due to wastage of staff.
We are committed to ensuring that all services delivered and our internal operations are conducted in a manner that conforms to environmental protection principles and practices in accordance with the requirements under the relevant green legislation, codes of practice and the Clean Air Charter as appropriate.
We have taken various effective housekeeping measures to conserve energy. For example, we have implemented a delamping exercise to lower illumination levels and installed energy-efficient T5 fluorescent tubes in various Immigration premises. In order to further reduce power consumption, we have put forward a number of energy-saving retrofit projects on the basis of the recommendations of the energy audits conducted by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department. With the efforts of staff, energy consumption in 2011 has decreased by 3.5 per cent compared with 2010 despite the increase in workload and operational activities.
Minimisation of paper consumption
For the sake of minimising the use of paper, we have made the best use of information technology for internal and external communication as far as possible. Email, the Internet, the intranet portal and other electronic means are widely adopted in our daily operations. We have also provided members of the public with e-Services such as online application and online reporting of immigration offences, which may help reduce the use of paper. Moreover, the e-Procurement System, which is less dependent on the traditional paper-based system, has been fully launched to streamline the procurement procedures.
Support for Clean Air Charter
In support of the Clean Air Charter, we have put great effort into reducing the energy consumption and emissions of our vehicles and vessel fleet. For instance, we have ensured proper maintenance of our departmental vehicles so as to minimise the nuisance caused by exhaust emissions. In addition, staff members have been encouraged to share the pool car and combine their trips as far as practicable in order to fully utilise vehicles and reduce mileage.
Promotion of staff awareness
To raise staff awareness of green management, we have organised a “Green Smart Office Competition” to encourage staff to suggest effective and practical measures to reduce the use of resources. A total of 45 activities or events have been held during a seven-month period including “No Driving Days”, “Encouraging the Use of Stairs”, “Greening of Office” and “Green Visits and Tours”. Energy Wardens have been appointed in each sub-division so as to get staff to participate in the implementation of housekeeping energy conservation practices. We shall continue to cultivate a green culture among staff and identify green initiatives in the Department as appropriate.
Vision for 2012
Further development of e-Channels for Exit-Entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao (EEP) holders
The number of visitors coming to Hong Kong has been on the rise in recent years. In order to further enhance the Department’s handling capacity, as well as its efficiency, there is a need to extend the e-Channel service to more visitors. From December 2011, eligible Mainland visitors may enrol for using e-Channels. The eligible Mainland visitors are those who are aged 18 or above; are the holders of a valid Exit-Entry Permit and one-year multiple exit endorsement for purposes including visiting relatives (Tanqin), individual visit (GerenLuyou) or business visit (Shangwu); have visited Hong Kong three times or more within the 12 months immediately preceding the date of enrolment; and have no adverse record in Hong Kong.
Mainland frequent visitors who have successfully enrolled with the Department have been able to perform self-service immigration clearance at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and Lo Wu control points with effect from January 3, 2012. The arrival and departure halls of the Lo Wu Control Point have been equipped with eight and five e-Channels for enrolled Mainland frequent visitors respectively. The arrival and departure halls at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point have also been fitted with five and three e-Channels respectively. The e-Channel service for Mainland frequent visitors will gradually be extended to the Shenzhen Bay, China Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal and airport control points before mid-2012. In addition, enrolled foreign frequent visitors and Macao smart permanent identity card holders have also been able to perform self-service immigration clearance at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and Lo Wu control points since January 3, 2012. The Department also plans to accord e-Channel service to eligible electronic EEP holders upon the introduction of electronic EEP by the Mainland authorities.
Enhancement of control point facilities and commencement of new control points
In regard to control point facilities, improvement works will be carried out in stages at the passenger terminal of the Lok Ma Chau Control Point. The first stage, concerning the arrival facilities (southbound), commenced on November 21, 2011, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. The second stage, concerning the departure facilities (northbound), will follow. It is expected that the whole project will be completed in 2013. The number of self-service e-Channels will be increased from 20 to 43. After the completion of the improvement works, the number of traditional counters and e-Channels for processing immigration clearance will be increased to 93 in total.
In addition, improvement works have also been carried out at the passenger terminal of the Man KamTo Control Point. The number of e-Channels will be doubled, from nine to 18. The project was launched in the first quarter of 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2012.
In the coming few years, there will be a number of new control points, including the new cruise terminal at Kai Tak, which is expected to commence service in 2013; the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge; the Liangtang/Heung Yuen Wai Cross-boundary Control Points; and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. The Department will actively work together with the relevant bureaus to provide courteous and efficient immigration services to the travelling public.
Facilitation arrangements for Taiwan residents visiting Hong Kong
Based on the principle of reciprocity, the Government is working on the detailed implementation arrangements to allow Taiwan visitors to make prior entry registration on their own through the Internet free of charge. Details will be announced in due course. The facilitation arrangements will contribute to
Hong Kong-Taiwan exchanges.
Greater convenience for travel document applicants
In order to provide better service to the public, a pilot programme for eligible applicants aged 11 to 17 to submit their applications through self-service kiosks has been operated in the Headquarters since the launch of the programme on December 29, 2011.
Electronic submission (e-Submission) of the form (BDR93) for “Information required for registration of birth/re-registration of birth”
At present, members of the public are required to complete a paper form (BDR93) for “Information required for registration of birth/re-registration of birth” upon birth registration of their newborn babies at birth registries. To enhance the process, a new electronic form will be introduced in the first quarter of 2012, and members of the public may opt to complete and submit the information required online while making an appointment via the e-Services platform. The e-submission of information would enhance the efficiency of birth registration.
Information Systems Strategy Review
On the recommendation of the third Information Systems Strategy (ISS) Review in late 2010, the Department has since early 2011 embarked on feasibility studies in phases to further assess whether the ISS projects recommended in the Review should be implemented. Subsequently, funding approval was given by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council on December 9, 2011, for the implementation of the first ISS project to build new information technology infrastructure for the purposes of sustaining the growth and development of the Department as well as supporting the implementation of other ISS projects in the future.