The barriers are coming down in the government's scheme to admit mainland professionals. From July 15, they will be allowed to come to Hong Kong as freely as foreign nationals because restrictions on specific jobs in which they are allowed to work will be lifted, and there will be no quota for the number of mainlanders who can be brought in to work in Hong Kong. The new admission scheme for skilled workers and professionals from the mainland will replace the Admission of Talents Scheme (ATS) and Admission of Mainland Professionals Scheme (AMPS) - which only cover the information technology and financial services sectors. However, Immigration Department Assistant Director Simon Peh Yun-lu said employers must still prove the jobs being given to imported workers could not be filled by Hong Kong residents, and they must pay a 'market salary'. 'We will keep in close touch with companies and get data from the Labour Department to decide how many professionals the different industries need.' Mr Peh said under the ATS, which was in force from December 17, 1999, to the end of last month, a total of 279 cases had been approved from 793 applications - an approval rate of about 35 per cent. 'Most of those refused did not have sufficient academic qualifications,' he said, adding that among the successful candidates, about half had doctorates. The department also received 554 applications under the AMPS scheme, which ran from June 1, 2001, to the start of last month, but it only approved 318 applicants. Mr Peh said the new scheme would attract more mainland professionals to Hong Kong. 'The candidates' spouses and unmarried dependant children under 18 years of age will also be admitted. Many industries are interested in the scheme, but now it's hard to guess how many applications we will receive.'