Blinkered attitude

I WOULD like to add my two dollars worth to the foreign/illegals/backpackers saga.

I am an Australian citizen and therefore hold an Australian passport. I arrived in Hong Kong in early June to join my boyfriend (a British passport holder) who has been working here since April.

We have been together for four years - in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong, and intend to marry eventually, but at present, it is not viable.

There's where the problem lies.

Under the terms of my visa, I am permitted to remain in Hong Kong for three months and cannot work - voluntary or otherwise.

If I wish to remain longer I have the option of either (i) leaving the country and getting another three months visa on returning or (ii) applying for a job/work permit - which may or may not be granted or (iii) get married.

While I appreciate the necessity for strict immigration controls, I believe that each case should be judged on its own merits.

I think that in this situation, the Immigration Department has a somewhat blinkered attitude in not recognising a de facto relationship.

It would appear that living de facto is OK so long as both parties have British or Hong Kong passports.

When I contacted the Immigration Department's Inquiries Section with regard to this, I was advised to get married or leave Hong Kong every three months to renew my visa.

What sort of a life is this may I ask, living in fear of immigration officers? I would be interested to read, in these columns, what immigration officials have to say about this case.