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Thursday, January 15, 2015, 08:52

New policies aim to attract skilled workers

By Shadow Li in Hong Kong

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced a series of policies to attract skilled workers — including easier visa applications. 

With the labor force expected to decline from around 2018, the government has decided to relax stay arrangements under three talent recruiting schemes — the General Employment Policy (GEP), Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP) and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme.

The government will develop a list under the GEP program to draw more overseas entrepreneurs — particularly those planning startups. Applicants must submit a detailed business plan, including source of funding and likely number of jobs to be created.

Sources from the Security Bureau said the move could create more jobs for locals.

Also, a longer visa duration will be granted under the new arrangement. New applicants with a work contract of at least two years will be granted a two-year visa instead of one year under the current system.

Visa extension applicants with an annual income of HK$2 million will be allowed to stay for six years. That means the new arrangement will make them eligible for permanent residency when the extension ends.

Also, unlike applicants bound to their jobs, these workers are free to change employers during that six-year stay. Sources said according to figures as of last year, about 3,000 people will be eligible to apply for a six-year visa.

Currently, about 90,000 people staying in Hong Kong had been admitted under the GEP and ASMTP schemes.

The government will also launch a pilot scheme in the second quarter to attract the second generation of Hong Kong permanent residents who emigrated overseas.

Those eligible would get unconditional stay of a year for their job hunt, with residency granted after seven years in the city.

A source said the Immigration Department has received 3,000 applications involving the second generation of overseas Hong Kong permanent residents who wish to gain residency. No quota will be set for the scheme, the source added.

The government is also working on the feasibility of drawing up a talent list, possibly listing those most wanted by industries, to further attract talents to the city.

To be suspended is the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, under which millionaires could become Hong Kong  residents by investing no less than HK$10 million in the local financial market.

The scheme, launched in 2003, had garnered roughly HK$205 billion, including investments in real estate, by September 2014.

The Immigration Department said that in 2003, the SAR’s economy was in recession, and the scheme was designed to attract new capital to stimulate economic growth. This is no longer a priority in view of the latest economic situation in Hong Kong.


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