15 Jan 2015

Immigration News Update

Hong Kong Government Halts the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme

On 14 January 2015, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR Mr. CY Leung, in his Policy Address 2015, announced that the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (“CIES”) would be suspended with effect from 15 January 2015. The explanation for the suspension was that “the Government is seeking talent, not money”.

The CIES scheme was launched in 2003 when Hong Kong was suffering from economic recession and the CIES was implemented to attract prominent investors to invest and live in Hong Kong. Foreign investors who meet certain criteria and who have the financial means to invest in Hong Kong may apply to stay in Hong Kong together with their dependants. After seven years’ of continuous stay in Hong Kong, these capital-investment entrants (together with their dependants) may apply to become permanent residents of Hong Kong. According to the scheme, foreign investors only needs to invest in Hong Kong for not less than HK$10 million without actually carrying out any business operation in Hong Kong.

According to statistics on CIES provided by the Immigration Department of Hong Kong, since the inception of CIES in 2003, the Immigration Department has received a total of 40,392 applications as at 30 September 2014. About 90% of the total applications received had been submitted by Chinese nationals with permanent residence overseas. Among such Chinese applicants, 21,822 had been granted formal approval whilst 2,315 had been granted approval-in-principle. Since 2003, applicants who have been granted formal approval have invested HK$42,588 million in real estate and HK$163,221 million in financial assets respectively.

According to the Immigration Department, more than 12,000 applications are being processed currently. The suspension of the CIES will not affect applications received before the suspension date (15 January 2015), whether already approved (including approval-in-principle and formal approval) or still being processed. Moreover, as a transitional arrangement, applications will be accepted for processing after the suspension date if those applicants have already invested no less than HK$ 10 million made within 6 months before the suspension date and their applications are made within 6 months of the investment, subject to the applicant meeting the other eligibility criteria under the CIES.

The Chief Executive Policy Address also launched a pilot scheme to attract second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents who have emigrated overseas to return to Hong Kong for development. Further, talents and entrepreneurs will be encouraged to come and stay in Hong Kong by relaxing the stay arrangements under the General Employment Policy, the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme.

Please contact our Mr. Hank Lo for any enquiries or further information about this news.