Acting Secretary for Security details enhancements to Hong Kong’s immigration policies for business and talent mobility

Michael Cheuk

22nd May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s strategic initiatives to facilitate cross-border business activities and talent exchanges are gaining traction, following recent enhancements by the Mainland authorities to immigration policies. The Acting Secretary for Security, Mr. Michael Cheuk, detailed these developments in a comprehensive response to Dr. Tan Yueheng’s inquiry in the Legislative Council on May 22, 2024.

On 28th April, 2024, the National Immigration Administration introduced significant changes that extend the permissible stay from seven to 14 days for holders of the exit endorsement for business visits between Hong Kong and Macao. This adjustment aims to support the dynamic business environment and frequent exchanges that typify the region’s economic interactions.

The revised policy now accepts applications for business visit endorsements from any service point across the country, regardless of the applicant’s registered household. This move simplifies the process, making it more accessible for business professionals nationwide.

Furthermore, the scope of the exit endorsement for talents has broadened beyond the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) to include Beijing and Shanghai. This expansion is set to attract a diverse pool of talents to Hong Kong, enhancing its position as a hub for international and Mainland professionals.

In the past year, Hong Kong has seen a significant increase in visitors under the business visit endorsement, with figures rising from 317 in 2021 to an impressive 353,909 in 2023. This surge underscores the growing importance of Hong Kong as a business nexus.

The types of activities permitted for these visitors are varied, ranging from contract negotiations to participation in business-related seminars. The government has also introduced the Pilot Scheme on Immigration Facilitation for Visitors Participating in Short-term Activities in Designated Sectors, and a similar initiative for those involved in arbitral proceedings. These schemes allow eligible individuals to engage in specific activities without the need for an employment visa.

Despite these facilitative measures, the Immigration Department does not maintain detailed records of the average duration of stay or expenditure of these visitors. However, the significant increase in visitor numbers suggests robust engagement with Hong Kong’s business sector.

To further capitalise on these enhancements, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau has launched the $1.4 billion Incentive Scheme for Recurrent Exhibitions. This initiative aims to attract high-caliber international trade shows to Hong Kong, thereby boosting the local economy through increased spending in accommodation, dining, and retail by business visitors.

As of 30th April, 2024, the scheme has already exceeded its targets, approving 73 applications and drawing nearly 1.67 million buyers to the events. This substantial engagement illustrates the scheme’s success in enhancing Hong Kong’s profile as a premier host for international exhibitions.

Looking ahead, the Hong Kong Tourism Board plans to intensify efforts to secure more international Meetings, Incentive travels, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) events. Strategies include creating new incentive travel experiences, enhancing online resources for MICE trade partners, and leveraging partnerships to bolster Hong Kong’s status as the global meeting place.