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Immigration Department Review 2022 (with photos)
     The Director of Immigration, Mr Au Ka-wang, held a press conference today (January 17) to review the Immigration Department (ImmD)'s work in the past year and look forward to the future. The following is a summary of the department's major activities in 2022:
Staying committed to its mission Safeguarding national security

     The ImmD has remained dedicated to its duties and taken the responsibility with unstinting resolve for fully implementing the National Security Law. This is evidenced by its exercising strict control over immigration matters in accordance with all applicable laws and prevailing immigration policies; preventing any activities from endangering national security; keeping out undesirables; safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests; guarding tightly the country's southern gateway, and ensuring the full and accurate implementation of the principle of "one country, two systems". Though confronted by the pandemic, the department has embraced the challenge and spared no effort to enforce the law stringently.

(A) Law enforcement

     In general, the ImmD's law enforcement work can be divided into three parts (see Annex 2 for details of enforcement operations and results). The first part refers to the work in close co-operation with overseas and Mainland law enforcement agencies on countering terrorism, curbing illegal transnational migration, combatting the illegal entry of non-ethnic Chinese and document forgery, etc. In particular, immigration officers intercepted suspicious persons at immigration control points in the light of terrorist threat assessments and actual circumstances, while keeping visitors in suspected association with terrorist activities under surveillance, so as to prevent such persons from attempting to enter Hong Kong. Moreover, the ImmD has been working assiduously with different law enforcement agencies to combat illegal transnational migration and document fraud, in order to prevent anyone from entering Hong Kong or travelling to other countries or territories via Hong Kong with forged travel documents. The second part involves the local law enforcement work, aiming at securing job opportunities for local residents and maintaining social order. The ImmD has been committed to combatting immigration-related offences by conducting operations against illegal workers, guarding against trafficking in persons, uncovering bogus marriages, etc. The third part concerns the management of detainees. In view of the entire landscape of detention and changes in profile of detainees, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government proposed to make amendments to the Immigration (Treatment of Detainees) Order (Cap. 115E) in Panel on Security in December 2022 to enhance and provide more effective management of detainees at the Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC), so as to ensure order and security at the CIC.

(B) Handling non-refoulement claims

     To ensure Hong Kong's prosperity, stability and development interests, the HKSAR Government has been working assiduously to enhance the handling of non-refoulement claims and expedite the repatriation of unsubstantiated non-refoulement claimants.
     The ImmD has speeded up the screening of non-refoulement claims with enhancement of screening procedures and flexible deployment of manpower. In 2022, the ImmD determined over 1 700 non-refoulement claims. As at the end of last year, there were about 200 claims pending screening by the ImmD. Under the unified screening mechanism, over 90 per cent of the claimants rejected by the ImmD would lodge appeals against the decisions. As at the end of 2022, there were about 2 600 claimants who had lodged appeals pending decision by the Torture Claims Appeal Board/Non-refoulement Claims Petition Office.
     In response to the legal proceedings instituted by a large number of claimants as their delaying tactics to illegally remain in Hong Kong, the HKSAR Government updated the removal policy effective from December 7, 2022. Generally speaking, the ImmD may proceed with the removal of a claimant whose judicial review leave application has been dismissed by the Court of First Instance of the High Court, thereby expediting the removal of unsubstantiated claimants from Hong Kong. The ImmD will make continuous endeavours to promptly remove unsubstantiated non-refoulement claimants from Hong Kong. Notwithstanding the impact of the pandemic, the department removed nearly 1 100 unsubstantiated claimants from Hong Kong in 2022, representing a substantial increase of about 46 per cent compared to 2021.
Services under the pandemic

     The services provided by the ImmD are closely related to members of the public. As one of the departments having the most frequent contact with the public, the ImmD has been keeping abreast of the times and striving for excellence in incorporating "anti-epidemic elements" into public service by making use of innovative technologies, so as to continue to provide quality public service and support the HKSAR Government's all-out efforts in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic while joining hands with the public in the fight against it.

(A) Visa services

(1) Introduction of electronic services for visa application in response to the pandemic

     To boost the handling efficiency, the ImmD has introduced in phases electronic services for visa application since December 2021, allowing applicants to complete the entire application process from application submission, payment to e-Visa collection through the ImmD Mobile Application, the ImmD's website or the GovHK website anytime, anywhere without having to attend an immigration office, which is both convenient and time-saving, and can even avoid group gatherings in full support of the Government's anti-epidemic policy. Moreover, the services were extended to all visa applications on November 29, 2022. As at the end of 2022, over 250 000 and 450 000 applicants had used the services for application submission and visa collection upon payment respectively, which accounted for nearly 30 per cent and 60 per cent of the respective total numbers of application submission and visa collection upon payment. For details of the numbers of applications for visas/entry permits received and approved by the ImmD under various talent admission schemes/policies from 2021 to 2022, please refer to Annex 1.

(2) Accepting applications for extension of stay from non-permanent residents outside Hong Kong under the pandemic

     Owing to the travel restrictions imposed around the world due to the pandemic, some non-permanent residents outside Hong Kong were unable to return to Hong Kong to apply for extension of stay in a timely manner. Therefore, since April 8, 2022, the ImmD has allowed eligible non-permanent residents outside Hong Kong to apply for extension of stay. From the introduction of the measure up to the end of 2022, around 23 000 applications were approved.
(B) Immigration clearance service

(1) Introduction of the Contactless e-Channel service for Hong Kong residents
     In December 2021, the ImmD launched the contactless automated immigration clearance (Contactless e-Channel service) at Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port, Shenzhen Bay Control Point and Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Control Point to allow registered Hong Kong residents to undergo self-service immigration clearance using an encrypted QR code generated by the Contactless e-Channel mobile application and facial recognition technology without the need to present their identity cards or touch the fingerprint scanner, thus bringing members of the public faster, more convenient and more hygienic immigration clearance service. The service was extended to all immigration control points in 2022. As at the end of 2022, around 650 000 Hong Kong residents had registered for the service and around 860 000 people had used the service, which accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the number of passengers who used the e-Channel for clearance during the same period.

(2) Services provided at control points

     Services at some control points have been suspended in phases since January 2020 due to the pandemic, yet officers of the ImmD have remained committed to performing their duties at the control points which are still in service and have strived to exercise effective immigration control by adhering to the anti-epidemic measures implemented by the HKSAR Government at different stages in response to the pandemic developments. In 2022, a total of around 5.3 million passengers passing through Hong Kong's control points were recorded, representing an increase of 171 per cent over 2021. The total number of visitor arrivals was around 600 000, representing a 562 per cent increase as compared with that of 2021, of which Mainland visitor arrivals were over 370 000, representing an increase of 472 per cent when compared with those of 2021. Moreover, the number of arrivals of other visitors in 2022 was 230 000, which was 790 per cent higher than that of 2021. Among the visitor arrivals in 2022, around 500 000 visitors travelled through the Airport Control Point, while around 97 000 visitors and around 6 000 visitors passed through land control points and sea control points respectively.
(C) Travel-related services

(1) HKSAR Passport Mobile Application Stations

     With the decrease of outbound travel by Hong Kong residents during the pandemic, a large number of HKSAR passports of the residents have been expired and pending renewal. The ImmD specially introduced from July 13 to September 10, 2022, the innovative HKSAR Passport Mobile Application Stations (PMAS), which were promotional vehicles that travelled around all 18 districts throughout Hong Kong to provide members of the public with the service of online application for an HKSAR passport, so as to call on and assist them to apply for an HKSAR passport early to prevent any delay in outbound travel in the future. During the operation of the PMAS, more than 10 000 residents were provided with the service of submitting an application for an HKSAR passport, and the service was well received. With the gradual relaxation of arrival quarantine requirements by the HKSAR Government and other countries, the number of applications for HKSAR passports has increased significantly. In 2022, the ImmD had issued a total of more than 610 000 HKSAR passports, nearly doubling that of 2021, among which the number of applications for HKSAR passports hit an all-time high for three consecutive months from October to December, with more than 100 000 applications for HKSAR passports received per month.

(2) Assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong

     The ImmD's Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) has been making every effort to provide practical assistance to Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong. The AHU maintains close contact with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the HKSAR, Chinese diplomatic and consular missions overseas and other relevant HKSAR Government departments to provide all practicable help and support to assistance seekers. In 2022, the AHU handled around 1 700 requests for assistance in total, most of which involved loss of travel documents, hospitalisation, casualties, etc, outside Hong Kong. During the year, there were a number of incidents outside Hong Kong involving Hong Kong residents being lured to work in Southeast Asian countries. The AHU has set up a designated WhatsApp hotline to facilitate the communication between the AHU and the assistance seekers who are suspected to have been lured to other countries. The AHU received a total of 46 requests for assistance and 42 Hong Kong residents are confirmed to be safe. Among the 42 confirmed safe assistance seekers, 10 of them did not request for further assistance or follow-up and the remaining 32 assistance seekers have returned to Hong Kong safely under the task force's co-ordination.
(D)  Anti-epidemic work

     The COVID-19 pandemic raged across Hong Kong over the past three years. Since the onset of the pandemic, the ImmD has been standing at the forefront to fight the virus together with members of the public by mobilising over 4 000 attendance of officers to participate in various anti-epidemic work, including the urgent deployment of staff to bring home nearly 1 200 Hong Kong residents stranded on the Diamond Princess cruise in Japan and Wuhan, and the subsequent deployment of officers to take part in multiple compulsory testing exercises in lockdown areas. The ImmD officers were even seconded to the Contact Tracing Office to help step up efforts in close contact tracing and assist the staff of the Department of Health in the issuance of quarantine orders. To cope with the severe pandemic situation in 2022, the Government had to set up and manage a large number of isolation or quarantine facilities within a short period of time. The ImmD therefore deployed officers to support the management of quarantine hotels/facilities. Meanwhile, six Community Isolation Facilities (CIFs) constructed with the support of the Central Government and coordinated by the Security Bureau (SB) had been established successively since March 2022. The ImmD, having swiftly deployed about 1 100 officers to join the SB's Anti-epidemic Task Force, completed the preparation work within a very short period of time and took over the three CIFs at Tsing Yi, San Tin and Hung Shui Kiu, which provided a total of more than 2 300 rooms and round-the-clock care services for over 10 000 infected persons. 
(E) Preparation for the resumption of cross-boundary travel

     Following the Chief Executive (CE)'s announcement on December 24, 2022, that the Central Government had agreed to the progressive, orderly and comprehensive resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, the ImmD has enabled manpower redeployment by fully arranging for officers who were outposted or deployed to support the anti-epidemic work during the pandemic to resume their original posts at control points. The ImmD has also drawn up contingency plans for the resumption of normal travel and conducted large-scale exercises regarding the resumption arrangements at control points to test the overall responsiveness and coordination of frontline officers on handling immigration clearance work. Moreover, the ImmD will continue to make manpower deployment in the light of the actual circumstances upon resumption, so as to ensure the smooth operation of immigration control points, especially during festivals and holidays.
The Territory-wide Identity Card Replacement Exercise

     The four-year Territory-wide Identity Card Replacement Exercise, rolled out in 2018, has now entered its final stage. All eligible holders of the old form of smart identity cards have been called up for identity card replacement. As at the end of 2022, the ImmD had issued a total of nearly 7.6 million new smart identity cards, of which around 5.9 million were issued under the Replacement Exercise. Moreover, the On-site Identity Card Replacement Service under the Replacement Exercise was introduced in early May 2019. Officers were deployed to visit residential care homes (RCHs) for the elderly and persons with disabilities throughout Hong Kong to provide one-stop service of registration for replacement and delivery of identity cards, so that residents of these RCHs could complete the replacement procedure at their RCHs. The service covered over 1 000 RCHs in Hong Kong, expected benefitting nearly 94 000 persons. Due to the pandemic, the On-site Identity Card Replacement Service was suspended with effect from January 2020. As the pandemic subsides, the service has resumed since November 2022. As at the end of 2022, the Service Teams had visited over 360 RCHs to complete the procedure for replacement of identity cards for over 18 000 residents. In the future, the Service Teams will continue to visit other RCHs to complete the replacement procedure for all eligible residents.
Nurturing young people's love for our home and country

     The Immigration Department Youth Leaders Corps (IDYL) is committed to providing disciplinary and leadership training for secondary school students in Hong Kong with a view to nurturing its members to become pillars of society who have a strong sense of patriotism. The ImmD will regularly send dedicated training officers to schools to provide training for the members and to build lasting relationships with a goal of becoming a growth partner for young people, strengthening the members' sense of national identity and building law-abiding awareness, while fostering good personal character, leadership, positive thinking, self-discipline and the spirit of serving the community. In 2022, the IDYL had over 400 members coming from around 20 secondary schools. 
Staff training and continuous development

     The ImmD launched a new round of in-service appointment and open recruitment of Immigration Officers in May and June 2022 respectively, while the open recruitment of Immigration Assistants continued to be conducted all year round. During the recruitment exercises in 2022, the department recruited about 80 Immigration Officers and 190 Immigration Assistants.
     In order to ensure that the ImmD's new recruits have a correct understanding of the Hong Kong National Security Law, the Immigration Service Institute of Training and Development (ISITD) has included it as part of the compulsory training for the recruits and provided relevant training for newly recruited civilian staff. The ISITD also provides relevant training for in-service members to deepen their understanding of the Hong Kong National Security Law. Topics on national studies, covering the Constitution, the Basic Law, the national flag, the national emblem and the national anthem, have also been included in training courses to boost the sense of national identity and the sense of belonging to the country among Service members. Since the third quarter of 2022, a test on the Hong Kong National Security Law has been included in the department's internal examinations for Service members in order to further consolidate their understanding and knowledge of the relevant laws. Moreover, apart from arranging for all newly recruited Service members to undergo Chinese-style footdrill training, the ISITD has also incorporated the Chinese-style footdrill elements into various in-service training courses to provide learning opportunities for all officers of the ImmD.

     With the gradual stabilisation of the pandemic and the progressive resumption of social normalcy, the ImmD will act in concert with the country's development strategies in pooling talents to build a better future for the country and Hong Kong. Innovative technology will also be fully utilised in serving members of the public with professionalism and excellent services.
(A) Attracting talents

     With a view to trawling for talents in a bolder, more targeted and proactive manner, as announced in the CE's 2022 Policy Address, the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) and a series of enhancement measures on existing talent admission schemes were implemented with effect from December 28, 2022.

(1) The launch of the TTPS

The TTPS was initiated on a trial basis for a period of two years to attract high-income talents and graduates from the world's top universities. The three categories of eligible talents include (i) persons with annual income reaching HK$2.5 million or above in the past year, (ii) bachelor's degree graduates of the world's top 100 universities with at least three years of work experience over the past five years, and (iii) bachelor's degree graduates of the world's top 100 universities in the past five years with less than three years of work experience. The first two categories are not subject to any quota, while the third is subject to an annual quota of 10 000. Talents admitted under the TTPS will normally be granted an initial stay of 24 months on time limitation only without other conditions of stay. As at January 16, 2023, over 6 200 applications were received. Over 75 per cent of the applications were processed, among which over 90 per cent have been approved.

(2) Enhancement measures on talent admission schemes     

     The department will continue to adopt an open policy of attracting talents, and trawl the world for high-quality talents through promoting various talent admission schemes in collaboration with relevant organisations, to support the long-term economic development of Hong Kong. (See Annex 3 for details of enhancement measures)

(B) Improving clearance efficiency and upgrading the infrastructure of land boundary control points

     To strengthen the connectivity with cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), the CE announced in his 2022 Policy Address the HKSAR Government's dedication to improving clearance efficiency and enhancing the infrastructure of land boundary control points. The ImmD will continue to strive for the redevelopment of the Huanggang Port and Sha Tau Kok Port/Control Point, so as to progressively implement the "East in East out, West in West out" strategy for cross-boundary goods transport and promote an efficient and convenient flow of people and goods among GBA cities. In addition, with the implementation of "co-location" arrangement and the "collaborative inspection and joint clearance" mode now under active study, the handling capacity and passenger flow of the new Huanggang Port can be largely enhanced. Moreover, the ImmD has been co-operating closely with relevant bureaux and departments to prepare for the implementation of the "Quota-free scheme for Hong Kong private cars travelling to Guangdong via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge" in 2023.
     The ImmD has been maintaining close liaison with relevant departments both in Hong Kong and the Mainland in developing a new clearance mode and getting all necessary work ready to tie in with the overall development plan and provide efficient and convenient clearance services.  
(C) Promoting the application of technology in public services

(1) I-RemindU Service

     The ImmD has been sparing no effort in applying technology to adopt more smart living elements into its daily public services. The department will introduce the first phase of the I-RemindU Service, a personalised notification service, on January 18, 2023, to enhance the public's experience of the ImmD's caring quality services. Through the Government's "iAM Smart" platform, the I-RemindU Service will remind registered members of the public in a timely manner that their HKSAR passports or limit of stay granted under visa/entry permit is about to expire. The I-RemindU Service will continuously be expanded in the future to remind members of the public registered for the service to submit various immigration-related applications in due course.

(2) Development of the new 1868 System

     Following the introduction of the 1868 Hotline Network Data Call function in 2021 and the addition of Online Assistance Request Form in June 2022, the ImmD is developing the new 1868 System and introducing designated WhatsApp and Wechat hotline in phases to further step up its services and support for Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong, which is expected to be implemented. Hong Kong residents in distress outside Hong Kong will then be able to reach the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit through more means such as instant messaging, chatbot and video call with greater convenience.
(D) Construction of the new Immigration Headquarters

     The construction of the ImmD Headquarters is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2023. Offices and facilities concerned will be relocated to the new Headquarters in phases in 2024 after the installation of the computer system network and basic equipment. To enhance the service level and efficiency of services for the public, the department will make use of innovative technologies to introduce smart elements into the new Headquarters, such as the provision of self-service station with diversified services so that the public can submit applications and collect documents or visas without queuing for services over the counters.
Ends/Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Issued at HKT 22:20
Today's Press Releases  


The Director of Immigration, Mr Au Ka-wang (fifth right), chairs the press conference of the Immigration Department's year-end review of 2022 today (January 17).
The Director of Immigration, Mr Au Ka-wang, chaired the press conference of the Immigration Department's year-end review of 2022 today (January 17). Photo shows Mr Au introducing the new Immigration Headquarters.
The Director of Immigration, Mr Au Ka-wang, chaired the press conference of the Immigration Department's year-end review of 2022 today (January 17). Photo shows an electronic poster of the I-RemindU Service.