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Hong Kong announces new immigration pilot program for tech professionals

Hong Kong announces new immigration pilot program for tech professionals

To meet the demand for new talent in the
innovation and technology sector, the Hong Kong Government introduced the Technology Talent Admission
Scheme (TechTAS)
on 8 May 2018 to provide a fast-track
arrangement
for the admission of overseas research and development talent.

Tenants and incubatees of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks
Corporation
(HKSTPC) and Hong Kong
Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport)
that are engaged in the
areas of biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, data
analytics, financial technologies, and material science are currently eligible under
this pilot program. The program will later be extended to successful technology
companies and institutes who will be given quotas to bring in foreign
talent. 

A maximum of 1,000 persons will be admitted
in the first year of this proposed three-year pilot scheme which will open for
applications by June 2018.

The Secretary for Innovation and
Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang, reiterated the need to supplement local talent
to keep up with the pace of tech industry.

"Talent is a key success factor in the
global innovation race. Hong Kong must adopt policies to assist the industry in
securing the talent needed. The TechTAS is designed to substantively streamline
the admission procedure and shorten the processing time. It will effectively
help technology companies and institutes in recruiting technology talent that
is in short supply locally from overseas, which is of critical importance in
the development of innovation and technology."

Quota
system for companies

To qualify for this pilot program, eligible
technology companies or institutes would first have to apply for a quota. Once
the company has been allocated the necessary quota, they can then sponsor
eligible foreign talents to apply for an employment visa/entry permit. In
addition, the company will also be required to fulfil a local talent employment
requirement. These processes will be regulated by the Innovation and Technology Commission with
recommendations from HKSTPC and Cyberport. Successful applicant companies can
expect a processing time as low as two weeks.

"Through the allocation of quotas, we
give applicant technology companies and institutes the certainty they need to
quickly carry out talent recruitment and make commercial plans. The TechTAS
will also help nurture local talent. It requires applicant technology companies
and institutes to employ one new local full-time employee plus two local
interns engaging in technology-related work for every three non-local persons
admitted," Secretary Yang explained.

To qualify for a quota, applicant companies
must demonstrate to the commission that the talent sought is in short supply or
not readily available in Hong Kong. The persons admitted under the TechTAS
should also be degree holders in science, technology, engineering or
mathematics (STEM) from a well-recognised university. While work experience is
not necessary for master's or doctoral degree holders, undergraduates will
require a minimum of one year of work experience. To further protect local job opportunities,
each successful applicant company will be allowed no more than 100 non-local
technology talent a year.

This new scheme is in line with Hong Kong’s
tech focused budget
announcement
in March 2018. It clearly set the agenda to enhance its
innovation and technology environment, attract companies from new economy sectors
and research institutions to set up their presence in Hong Kong and nurture
talent for a knowledge-based economy.