What is the change? A series of proposed immigration improvements benefiting foreign workers in several categories are planned to take effect in the coming months.

What does the change mean? Among the benefits, foreign nationals applying under the General Employment Policy (GEP), the Admissions Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP) and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) will be eligible for longer initial stays and more favorable extension conditions.

  • Implementation timeframe: The target date is the second quarter of 2015.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals under the GEP, the AMSTP and the QMAS.
  • Impact on processing times: The longerinitial and extension periods mean that applicants will not have to renew as frequently.
  • Business impact: The proposals are intended to attract and retain top foreign employees, investors and entrepreneurs.
  • Next steps: The measures are still under discussion and must be approved before they take effect.

Background: The measures would allow applicants under the GEP, ASMTP and investor programs to obtain an initial stay of two years (instead of the current one-year period) or the duration of the employment contract, whichever is shorter. Extensions of stay in these categories would be changed to two extensions with durations of three years each (instead of the current system of three possible extensions of two, two and three years).

In the QMAS program, the general points test will be revised to award 30 additional points to graduates of internationally recognized schools and 15 points to applicants with at least two years of graduate or specialist level international work experience. The initial and renewal durations of stay will be revised similarly to the above categories, and applicants under the achievement-based points test are eligible for an initial eight-year stay.

Top-tier foreigners under the GEP, ASMTP and QMAS programs are eligible for a six-year extension if they meet certain criteria, including employment in Hong Kong for at least two years and having a taxable income of at least HK$2 million in the previous year of assessment.

BAL Analysis: When implemented, the changes will give more flexibility to some expatriate employees and investors and reward those with top-level education and work experience.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Hong Kong. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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