A mainland teenager was denied permanent resident status because she was born just weeks before her father had officially clocked up seven years in the SAR, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday. Lai Kar-shing, the father of Lai Yau-chik, 15, sneaked into Hong Kong on April 18, 1979, and received a formal entry permit allowing him to stay on July 9. His daughter was born on the mainland on June 10, 1986. But the Immigration Department rejected Ms Lai's application for a certificate of entitlement - a document mainlanders must obtain before settling in Hong Kong - on the grounds that her father had not been living here for a full seven years at the time of her birth. The requirement is laid down in the Basic Law. Mr Lai is seeking a judicial review of the director's decision, which was upheld by an immigration tribunal. Barrister Gerard McCoy, SC, for the Lai family, argued that the director had been wrong in law and the father's residence in Hong Kong should commence from May 1979, when he surrendered to authorities, instead of July. This would mean Mr Lai would have clocked up the requisite seven years when his daughter was born and she would therefore qualify as a permanent resident. Mr McCoy said Mr Lai applied for an identity card on May 24, 1979, under the 'touch base policy', which allowed mainland immigrants who made it to the urban area of Hong Kong to remain. His status was cleared and endorsed two days later. On July 9, 1979, he was issued with an entry permit by the Immigration Department. Mr McCoy told the court that Mr Lai was given implied permission to remain before receiving an entry permit, when his status had been endorsed under the touch-base policy, because documents he had been furnished with at the time meant he could not be removed or arrested. Mr McCoy added there were about 10 similar cases waiting to be heard pending the outcome. But barrister William Marshall, SC, for the Director of Immigration, argued that permission to stay had to be given formally in writing from the Director of Immigration, rather than implied. Mr Justice Simon Mayo, Mr Justice Woo Kwok-hing and Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling reserved judgment.