Number of quality migrant applicants rises 10pc in Hong Kong

Mainlanders account for the most, according Immigration Department's latest figures

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 December, 2012, 8:39am

Hong Kong has seen an increase of nearly 10 per cent in the number of well-qualified people who want to live here, says the Immigration Department. Most of those approved were from the mainland.

In the first 11 months of the year, 1,834 people applied for admission under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme - 9.5 per cent more than in the whole of last year - the department said.

Since 2006, the department has approved 2,392 applications - 77.6 per cent of them from the mainland. The programme was set up to attract highly qualified people without the prior offer of employment required for a normal working visa. The city issued 30,557 visas last year under the general employment policy.

The quality migrant scheme worries some commentators because of the large proportion of mainlanders.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said it showed a worrying trend of "mainlandisation" in Hong Kong.

"It is not surprising that mainland China has more talent given its 1.3 billion population, but I feel uncomfortable about the overwhelming figure," she said.

The next top sources of migrants are the United States, Australia and Canada - each accounting for 2.9 to 3.7 per cent.

Qi Jia, 28, first runner-up in the 2004 Asian Figure Skating Trophy championship, was admitted under the scheme for her sporting achievements.

Immigration figures show that more than half of those admitted as quality migrants were working in industries already well developed, such as finance, accounting, information technology, trading and commerce.

Mo said Hong Kong should admit quality migrants in areas where talent was scarce, such as the cultural and scientific sectors, to avoid competition with locals.

But assistant immigration director Chan Man-lang rejected claims the quality migrants were taking jobs from local talents.

"We do not see any Hongkongers with good qualifications who cannot find a job because of this [scheme]," he said.

Marjorie Yang Mun-tak, chairwoman of an advisory committee that vets applications, said more effort could be put into attracting talents from a broader variety of industries.