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LCQ15: Issues relating to vetting and approval of applications for Top Talent Pass Scheme
     Following is a question by the Hon Michael Tien and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Chris Sun, in the Legislative Council today (April 19):


     In February this year, the media reported that a Mainlander with a criminal record was granted a visa/entry permit under the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS), and the incident has aroused concerns. It has been reported that on the day the incident came to light, the authorities pointed out that applicants of the TTPS were not required to declare their criminal records. The authorities indicated in the late evening of the same day that the Immigration Department would adjust the application procedures of the TTPS, whereby applicants would be required to declare whether they had any record of criminal conviction on the electronic application form. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) as the TTPS has certain requirements on the applicants' income or years of working experience and academic qualifications, whether the authorities have conducted any checking after the applicants have declared the relevant information; if so, why the authorities found that the applicant concerned was suspected of having obtained the visa/entry permit under the TTPS by false representation only after the aforesaid case had been reported by the media; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) as it is learnt that the TTPS applicants are mostly professionals from various trades and industries, whether, apart from records of criminal conviction, the TTPS has set requirements on the professional conduct and discipline of the applicants; if not, of the reasons for that, and whether such requirements will be imposed; and

(3) whether it has examined if the applications approved so far have fully met the relevant requirements for vetting and approval?



     The Government launched the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) on December 28, 2022, to attract high-income and talents with good qualifications from all over the world. In consultation with the Security Bureau and Immigration Department (ImmD), the reply to the Member's question is as follows:

(1) The ImmD has all along been assessing each visa/entry permit application in a rigorous manner and will make timely enhancement to the policy and measures so as to cope with social changes and practical needs. Upon submission of an application under the TTPS to the ImmD, the applicant shall not only declare his/her income, academic qualification and/or work experience according to the category he/she is applying, but also provide relevant supporting documents, such as a notice of salaries tax assessment of the previous assessment year issued by a revenue department from his/her place of origin, documentary proof of financial status of the applicant's self-owned companies and his/her graduation certificate, etc. If suspicious circumstances are found, the ImmD will require the applicants to furnish further information and follow-up for verification.

     As regards the case mentioned in the question, the ImmD has reviewed the application and suspected that the visa/entry permit was obtained by false representation. The Director of Immigration has declared the visa/entry permits invalid in accordance with the law, and is conducting a follow-up criminal investigation.

     The ImmD keeps reviewing and making timely enhancement to the TTPS, including the adjustment of its application procedures on February 22, 2023, to require applicants to declare whether they have any criminal convictions when submitting their application.

(2) The regulation for the conduct and discipline for local practice of various professions varies in different parts of the world. It is difficult to formulate uniform standards to require applicants to report their conduct and discipline records in their places of origin and to provide documentary proof of verification before coming to Hong Kong. In general, the professional conduct and discipline of practitioners of different professions in Hong Kong are currently regulated by relevant policy bureaux/departments, statutory bodies or industry associations and organisations, which apply to eligible outside talents who come to Hong Kong to practise in the relevant professions. Individual employers may also have the established verification procedures before employing relevant eligible persons. We do not intend to impose relevant requirements under the TTPS.

(3) The ImmD adjusted the application procedures for the TTPS on February 22, 2023, requiring applicants to declare whether they have any criminal convictions when submitting their application. Persons who had applied before the date and had been granted a visa/entry permit under the TTPS are not required to supplement such information. The ImmD will examine whether there are suspicious circumstances and handle the relevant cases as appropriate.
Ends/Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:05
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