Hong Kong will soon require students, domestic workers and other groups applying for visas to the city to declare their criminal history.

domestic workers helpers chinese hong kong flags national day patriotic
Domestic workers gather on a day off on Oct. 1, 2022. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

The new requirement, which will come into effect from June 19, will not affect those seeking visa extensions. It will also not apply to domestic workers who are changing employers or renewing their contracts with the same employer, according to a government press release published on Wednesday.

Besides students and domestic workers, applicants for training and working holiday schemes, dependents, and imported workers under a labour scheme that hires for positions including in the hotel and construction sectors will have to declare their criminal history.

The government said that the Immigration Department would continue to process applications that are received on or before June 18 as normal.

The move marks a further expansion of criminal check requirements for visa applicants to Hong Kong after a controversial Chinese scientist who was jailed in 2019 said in February that he had been granted a visa under the city’s new Top Talent Pass Scheme. The scheme was introduced last year to allow high-earners and recent graduates to obtain a two-year visa without first having to secure a job offer.

HKU University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

He Jiankui, who had told journalists that he was contacting Hong Kong universities and research organisations for opportunities, had illegally experimented on human embryos to create the world’s first gene-edited babies.

Hours after saying it “would not comment on individual cases,” authorities announced that He’s visa had been cancelled.

Days later, the government said it would introduce mandatory criminal checks for applicants of some of the city’s talent attraction schemes. They included the general work visa, one that targets those in the tech industry, and the admission scheme for mainland Chinese professionals.

Wednesday’s announcement that domestic workers would soon be required to declare their criminal history is a turnaround from the government’s clarification in February that their applications would not be affected.

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Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.