A report published by the Audit Commission has criticised Immigration Department schemes for lacking guidelines, vigilance, and compliance when processing non-local work applications.

A scheme which drew particular criticism was the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG) programme. Launched in May 2008, it is designed to attract foreign students with higher-qualifications from locally-accredited programmes to remain in Hong Kong. The Audit Commission noted that Immigration did little to check the authenticity of supporting documents from visa applicants, requiring only photocopies of academic certificates and employment offers.

“With the advances in information technologies (e.g. image processing technology), there is a risk that bogus documents may be used to support IANG applications,” it said in the report dated April 5.

hong kong immigration
File photo: GovHK.

Since the scheme’s inception until December 2015, over 50,000 applications were approved from foreign students – an approval rate of 99.9 per cent.

Appropriate employment

The report also questioned whether the Immigration Department was ensuring applicants were securing employment appropriate to their qualifications. It noted that some positions could have been filled by individuals with lower qualifications.

“[I]n six cases, the case officers approved the applicants taking up the jobs which were specified for certificate holders/Form 5 graduates or above,” it said.

The report also targeted four other government schemes: the General Employment Policy, the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, and the Foreign Domestic Helper Admission Scheme. The schemes were flagged for issues ranging from a need to comply with guidelines in processing applications to a need to strengthen regulations to prevent domestic workers from “job-hopping”.

Domestic Worker Justice Centre
Photo: Xyza Cruz Bacani.

Audit recommendations

The report concluded with a list of ten recommendations made by the commission to the Director of Immigration Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, noting a need for properly maintained computer records and an enhancement of existing IT systems for data collection.

Isaac Cheung

Isaac Cheung

Isaac Cheung is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. During the Occupy Central protests, Isaac worked as an editor and reporter at LIVE: Verified Updates, a bilingual news page founded and maintained by HKU journalism students. He has also worked at Coconuts Hong Kong as a reporter.