Hong Kong resident and Pakistani illegal worker jailed for employment offences

Shatin Magistrates' Courts

21st May 2024 – (Hong Kong) A Hong Kong resident employer and a Pakistani illegal worker faced legal consequences as they were both sentenced to imprisonment at the Shatin Magistrates’ Courts today. The charges stemmed from an anti-illegal worker operation conducted by the Immigration Department (ImmD) on December 13, 2023.

During the operation, the ImmD apprehended a 50-year-old Pakistani male who was working as an odd job worker in Tuen Mun. Upon verification, it was discovered that he held a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which explicitly prohibited him from seeking employment. Further investigation revealed that he was a non-refoulement claimant. Additionally, he was suspected of using and being in possession of a Hong Kong identity card belonging to another individual, as well as making false representations to immigration officers. The Hong Kong resident employer of the illegal worker was also arrested on related charges. The employer, a 48-year-old male, was suspected of transferring an identity card to another person without a reasonable excuse.

The illegal worker faced charges at the Shatin Magistrates’ Courts, including taking employment while being subject to a removal or deportation order, using and possessing a Hong Kong identity card that belonged to someone else, and making false representations to immigration officers. Following the trial, he was sentenced to a total of 26 months and 14 days’ imprisonment. Similarly, the Hong Kong resident employer faced charges of being an employer of a person not lawfully employable and transferring an identity card without a reasonable excuse. After trial, he received a total sentence of 24 months and 14 days’ imprisonment.

The ImmD spokesperson issued a warning, citing section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, which strictly prohibits illegal immigrants or individuals subject to removal or deportation orders from engaging in any form of employment, whether paid or unpaid, or establishing or joining any business. Convicted offenders may face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to three years’ imprisonment. The Court of Appeal has established a guideline ruling that mandates a 15-month imprisonment sentence for such cases. Additionally, the possession, use, or forging of a Hong Kong identity card or one related to another person is an offence punishable by a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Transferring an identity card to another person is also illegal and may result in a fine of $100,000 and a 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.

The spokesperson emphasised that making false representations to an immigration officer is a serious offence under Hong Kong laws. Offenders may face prosecution and, upon conviction, a maximum penalty of a $150,000 fine and 14 years’ imprisonment.