Monday, April 28, 2008


Andrew Lillis,
Lehman, Lee & Xu

Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, has long been a city where East meets West. Handed back to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, the city has continued to prosper and maintain its status as a leading global financial hub. The city ranks alongside developed western nations in income and quality of life surveys and has a favorable income tax regime . Hong Kong relies on the talent of its people to maintain its economic success and in this regard has recently introduced a scheme to attract talented migrants. The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme as it is known was set up in 2006 with the goal of attracting highly skilled individuals and their families to come to Hong Kong.

Under the scheme candidates do not need a job offer before they apply. Points are awarded based on their age, educational qualifications, years of work experience, fluency in languages and family background. The maximum number of points available is 165 and the “pass” rate is currently set at 80.

Initially the scheme was rather stringent in its point allocation; the profile of the preferred migrant was a bilingual (English and Chinese) speaker in the 30 – 34 age bracket with at least 5 years of work experience.

In the months following its launch the scheme attracted little interest and applicant numbers were low. In response to this the requirements were adjusted earlier this year to enable younger migrants with less work experience to qualify – now anyone aged 18 – 39 receives the maximum number of points under the age bracket. The amount of work experience qualifying for points was reduced from 5 years to 2 years and those who speak only Chinese or English are now awarded points with extra points being available to those speaking foreign languages. According to Helen Chan, assistant director of immigration, the changes were made in order to attract younger migrants to Hong Kong.

Once a candidate meets the points bar they can lodge an official application. All candidates are screened and ranked according to several factors such as the skills presently needed in Hong Kong. Those who are ranked highly are shortlisted and invited to Hong Kong to be interviewed after which successful candidates are approved to migrate to Hong Kong. Each application is viewed on its merits and a high points score does not necessarily lead to approval. The annual quota under the scheme is 1000 with the success rate of those short-listed falling around the 70% mark.

Migrants under the scheme may also elect to be assessed under a separate achievement based points scale. This scale is for exceptional individuals who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields. Examples of those who have migrated under this category are the pianist Lang Lang, famous actress Zhang Ziyi and the NHL hockey player Barry Beck.

Information on the Quality Migrants Admission Scheme can be found at