HKSAR - The Hong Kong government is implementing new measures to assess visa applications, requiring applicants to declare any previous criminal records.
Starting from June 19, individuals applying for visas or entry permits, including dependents, foreign domestic helpers, imported workers, students, and those applying for working holiday schemes, will be subjected to this requirement.
"Application procedures for extension of stay, and for foreign domestic helpers currently working in Hong Kong applying for contract renewal with the same employer or for completing the remaining/extended period of the current contract with the same employer and for change of employer in Hong Kong, will not be included in this adjustment," the department said the immigration department (ImmD) in its media release.
"As a transitional arrangement, the ImmD will continue to process applications that reach the ImmD on or before June 18, regardless of whether declaration on criminal convictions has been made."
This move follows the government's previous requirement for criminal declarations from visa applicants under the Top Talent Pass Scheme and other talent admission schemes.
The decision comes in the wake of the controversy surrounding the entry of Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui, who had qualified under the TTPS despite a criminal conviction. The ImmD emphasized the importance of providing accurate and truthful information during the application process.
Government officials have not explicitly stated whether a criminal conviction will result in automatic disqualification of an applicant. Additionally, there are concerns regarding potential delays in visa processing for new domestic helpers coming from overseas.
Confusion also prevails on whether the declarations will be diligently examined by Hong Kong authorities or is this just a formality. Questions such as whether applicants are obliged to declare spent convictions – the removal of certain criminal records after a specified period – also need further clarification from the quarters concerned.
The population of Hong Kong is approximately 7.5 million people as per its Census and Statistics Department while the number of visitors who visited Hong Kong in 2019 was 55.91 million according to its Tourism Board.
The country had been relying on liberal visa policy but soon that is about to change in the wake of the case mentioned above.
Pakistani currency remains stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 21, 2024 (Wednesday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.6 for buying and 282.4 for selling.
Euro comes down to 300 for buying and 303 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 350.5 for buying, and 354 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.15 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.35.
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