For discussion EC(97-98)39
on 3 December 1997


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the creation of the following permanent post in the Immigration Department with effect from 11 December 1997 -

    1 Assistant Director of Immigration
    (GDS(C)2) ($110,000 - $116,800)


The Director of Immigration (D of Imm) does not have adequate support at the Assistant Director level to deal with new immigration issues which have arisen following the reunification of Hong Kong with the Mainland.


2. The D of Imm, with the support of the Secretary for Security, proposes to create a permanent post of Assistant Director of Immigration (AD) (GDS(C)2) with effect from 11 December 1997.


Existing Organisation

3. At present, the Immigration Department (ImmD) comprises five branches, each headed by a permanent post of AD, with the following distribution of responsibilities -

  1. Administration and Planning (AP) Branch - Headed by AD(AP), the AP Branch is responsible for providing administrative support on matters involving finance, supplies, accommodation, personnel, welfare, discipline, public relations and customer services.
  2. Control and Investigation (CI) Branch - Headed by AD(CI), the CI Branch is responsible for administering immigration control of all passengers travelling to and from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR); conducting pre-entry clearance on non-visa free visitors and persons seeking to take up employment, study or residence in the HKSAR; and handling the investigation and prosecution of immigration related offences. The AD(CI) oversees the operation of all immigration control points, the Visa Control Division and the Investigation Division.
  3. Information Systems (IS) Branch - Headed by AD(IS), the IS Branch is responsible for ensuring the efficient operation of computer systems in the Department as well as the proper and secure storage of data collected.
  4. Personal Documentation (PD) Branch - Headed by AD(PD), the PD Branch is responsible for the issue of travel documents and identity cards, and the registration of births, deaths and marriages.
  5. Special Duties (SD) Branch - Headed by AD(SD), the SD Branch is responsible for handling all transitional immigration matters. These include overseeing the adaptation of immigration and related laws, formulating and co-ordinating visa policy as well as explaining visa policy changes in response to representations. The AD(SD) has also assumed the responsibility for all administrative and operational matters relating to the Vietnamese refugees (VRs), Vietnamese migrants (VMs) and Vietnamese illegal immigrants (VIIs) in Hong Kong since the supernumerary AD(VR) post lapsed on 1 October 1997.

4. In addition, we created under delegated authority a supernumerary AD post, designated as AD (Liaison and Promotions) [AD(LP)], on 11 June 1997 for six months to cope with the increased workload arising from the growing complexity of the handover work, the need to launch a full scale lobbying exercise to secure visa-free arrangements for HKSAR passport holders, and the need to go on a world-wide presentation trip to explain to former Hong Kong residents the changes in Right of Abode (ROA) provisions. The AD(LP) post will lapse on 11 December 1997. We set out the existing organisation chart of the Department in Enclosure 1.

New Pressure Areas

5. New pressures on the immigration front have arisen following the reunification with the Mainland. These include, inter alia, implications of the ROA provisions under the Basic Law, the negotiation of mutual visa exemption arrangements with foreign countries and regions, and the promotion of travel convenience of Hong Kong residents.

6. ROA - A pressing issue currently facing the Department is the problem posed by the large number of Mainland children claiming to have the ROA in Hong Kong. Although legislation is now in place and a Certificate of Entitlement (C of E) Scheme is in operation to provide for the effective and equitable verification of the status of these children, the ImmD must work closely with the Mainland authorities to monitor development in the operation of the One Way Permit Quota System with a view to improving the quota allocation system and working out long-term arrangements to address the problem of family reunion between the HKSAR and the Mainland. The ImmD must also work closely with the Department of Justice (D of J) in presenting the government's case on the numerous ROA court cases, to evaluate the impact of the Court rulings and to work out solutions to new problems arising from the judgments.

7. Visa Exemption Arrangements - The Central People's Government has authorised the HKSAR Government to negotiate and enter into mutual visa exemption arrangements with foreign countries and regions. Up to now, over 40 countries have granted visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders, but many other countries and regions (about 170) have not yet decided on whether to adopt this arrangement. The D of Imm will need to work together with the Security Bureau to persuade the undecided countries and regions to accord visa-free access facility to HKSAR passport holders. This involves intensive lobbing work.

8. Promotion of Travel Convenience - Although Hong Kong residents can continue to use British National (Overseas) passports, Certificates of Identity and Documents of Identity (DIs) after 30 June 1997, we need to keep other countries updated about immigration control in Hong Kong. Otherwise, some may impose new restrictions on the entry of holders of these travel documents. In addition, the ImmD is making preparation for the issue of DIs with a new design to legal immigrants from the Mainland. We also need to explain the new arrangements to foreign countries to enable DI holders to continue to enjoy ease of travel.

Need for an Additional AD Post

9. The D of Imm needs dedicated support at the directorate level to carry out the following activities relating to the new pressure areas -

  1. assess the implications of ROA provisions under the Basic Law in light of the Court rulings and to work out solutions to new problems arising thereof;

  2. oversee the implementation of the C of E Scheme;

  3. monitor the operation of the One Way Permit Quota System;

  4. instruct the D of J on ROA litigations;

  5. prepare for and follow-up on negotiations for visa-free access of Hong Kong residents to foreign countries and territories, as well as work out implementation details and resolve operational problems; and

  6. promote the acceptance of travel documents held by Hong Kong residents by other countries. These include the British National (Overseas) passports, Certificates of Identity and DIs issued before 1 July 1997 and the new designed DIs that the ImmD is planning to issue.

This officer will have to co-ordinate policy input within the Department and with the Security Bureau and other policy bureaux. He will become the focal point at which all the work relating to these new immigration issues will be co-ordinated. Because of the breadth of immigration knowledge, exposure, and negotiation and administrative skills required of the job, and the level of his contacts within the government, with Mainland authorities and with foreign countries, we consider that the work cannot be handled effectively by an officer below the rank of an Assistant Director of Immigration.

10. As an interim measure, we have assigned the AD(LP) to undertake all the work relating to these new immigration issues. Meanwhile, the D of Imm has considered the possibility of meeting these new pressures through reshuffling of duties amongst the five permanent ADs. The review has concluded that the AD(AP), AD(IS) and AD(PD) are fully loaded and the AD(CI) is excessively overloaded, while the AD(SD) should have some spare capacity. We set out a detailed account of the pressure areas facing each of them at Enclosure 2. The D of Imm therefore decided to transfer the responsibility for the Visa Control Division from AD(CI) to AD(SD), and to retitle the latter as AD (Visa Policy and Special Duties) [AD(VP)]. Thus, the AD(VP) is responsible for all visa control matters, including policy formulation, co-ordination and fine tuning of changes in visa matters, and actual implementation of visa control work; as well as the administration and operation of all Vietnamese migrants related issues. We set out the revised duties and responsibilities of AD(CI) and AD(VP) at Enclosures 3 and 4 respectively. After the reshuffling of duties, the five permanent ADs are fully committed to the work in their respective schedules. They do not have any spare capacity to take on the responsibilities of the AD(LP) when this supernumerary post lapses on 11 December 1997.

11. As it is not expected that pressures in these areas will decrease in the near future, we therefore propose to create a permanent post of Assistant Director of Immigration, to be designated as AD (Liaison and Support) [AD(LS)], with effect from 11 December 1997 to assist the D of Imm in dealing with the new immigration issues described above. We set out the main duties and responsibilities of AD(LS) and the proposed organisation of ImmD at Enclosures 5 and 6 respectively.


12. The additional notional annual salary cost of this proposal at MID-POINT is -

$ No. of Post
New permanent post1,360,800 1

13. The additional full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-cost, is $2,117,952.

14. We have not included any provision in the 1997-98 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal, which is estimated at $405,000 for the remainder of the financial year. Subject to Members?approval of the proposal, we will provide the necessary supplementary provision under delegated authority.

15. This proposal has no direct consequence on the non-directorate establishment of ImmD.


16. The Civil Service Bureau considers that the proposed ranking and grading of the post is appropriate.


17. The Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Service has advised that the grading proposed for the post of Assistant Director of Immigration would be appropriate if the post were to be created.

Security Bureau
November 1997

Enclosure 2 to EC(97-98)39

Pressure Areas Facing the Existing Five Permanent Posts of Assistant Director of Immigration

AD (Administration and Planning) [AD(AP)]

Managing a department with an establishment of 5 327 staff (as at 1 October 1997) and taking charge of all administrative issues is already a full-time commitment for the AD(AP). His work is further complicated by the fact that a number of the projects undertaken by the Department are of a time limited nature which invariably require careful manpower planning and close monitoring in order to avoid redundancy and wastage of training resources. His workload has increased substantially as a result of the introduction of Human Resource Management (HRM) initiatives and the delegation of certain HRM functions from the Civil Service Bureau to the Department. Apart from these, AD(AP) is also responsible for planning a departmental training school, overseeing the restructuring and recruitment of the Immigration Officer grade, promoting quality management, as well as improving customer services in the fulfilment of the Department's performance pledges.

Assistant Director (Control & Investigation) [AD(CI)]

2. Currently, there are six control point projects in the pipe line - the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, the conversion of the Hung Hom Station into an international through train terminal, the expansion of the existing Lok Ma Chau and Man Kam To border crossings, the reprovisioning of the existing China Ferry Terminal and immigration anchorages, and the setting up of the Tuen Mun River Trade Terminal.

3. Workload in visa control has increased in both quantity and complexity in recent years. Apart from new activities such as the introduction of immigration control on British citizens, there are plans to implement the Travel Pass Scheme and the APEC Business Card Scheme to facilitate the mobility of both foreign and local frequent business travellers.

4. In order to dispel rumours of amnesty after the reunification, AD(CI) must ensure that we conduct investigation and prosecution properly and that we remove or deport illegal immigrants as quickly as possible. The AD(CI) also has to take prompt and decisive actions in handling international syndicates which specialise in the supply of forged travel documents, so as to prevent Hong Kong from being used as a staging point for illegal immigration.

AD (Information Systems) [AD(IS)]

5. Apart from being responsible for planning, developing, implementing and evaluating information systems, the AD(IS) also has to promote office automation and record management. Examples of the new computer system currently under development are : upgrading the HKSAR Passport System to cater for the processing of 4 000 passports per day, conducting a feasibility study on the issue of travel passes to frequent travellers, installing the computer system at the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, planning the computer system at the Tuen Mun Immigration Anchorage, and developing separate computer systems for processing ROA applications, declarations for change of nationality, applications for acquisition, restoration and renunciation of Chinese nationality, and applications for Certificate of Entitlement. In addition, AD(IS) has to conduct timely review of existing computer systems, with a view to replacing them when they reach their life expectancy. AD(IS) is also responsible for handling matters arising from the implementation of the Code on Access to Information and the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

AD (Personal Documentation) [AD(PD)]

6. After the reunification with the Mainland, the AD(PD) has taken up the new tasks of determining ROA claims, issuing HKSAR passports and travel documents, and processing declarations for change of nationality and other Chinese nationality-related applications which are important to the people of Hong Kong and have attracted overwhelming response. For instance, ImmD has so far received over 350 000 applications for HKSAR passports which are almost double that of the forecast number. To ensure that eligible persons do not have to wait unduly long for their HKSAR travel documents, AD(PD) has to monitor the number of applications received daily and deploy staff and other resources flexibly within his Branch to process the applications as quickly as possible. The Department needs to keep the planning and implementation of personal documentation under regular review to ensure that they can keep up with the times.

AD (Special Duties) [AD(SD)]

7. Although the more pressing transitional issues have been resolved before the handover, some less urgent but equally important issues are still outstanding and will need to be settled in the longer term. These include the review of the policies regulating the entry of non-permanent residents and the implementation of Consular Agreements for the HKSAR. There is also a growing need to explain policy changes in response to enquiries and representation from the public. The AD(SD) has to follow up these issues.

8. Apart from the above, the AD(SD) has to deal with VM related issues. A substantial number of court cases are still in the pipe line. Some of the more difficult cases, particularly those involving law suits, will require the personal attention of the AD(SD) who will have to brief counsel on departmental policy and to give evidence in court. In addition, there will be a need to continue to pursue the 蘔ard-core?VR cases in co-operation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for their resettlement overseas, the Ex-China Vietnamese illegal immigrants cases with the Mainland authorities for their eventual repatriation to the Mainland, as well as to continue to negotiate with the Vietnamese Government for the repatriation of the VMs and VIIs in Hong Kong.

Enclosure 3 to EC(97-98)39

Revised Job Description of AD (Control and Investigation) [AD(CI)]

Responsible to the Director of Immigration through the Deputy Director of Immigration for the following duties and responsibilities :

  1. To administer immigration entry control at air, sea and land control points and to provide efficient immigration clearance service to Hong Kong residents and visitors.

  2. To administer the work of the Investigation Division in the apprehension and prosecution of illegal workers, illegal immigrants, overstayers, forged travel documents holders and syndicates.

  3. To maintain close co-operation and intelligence exchange with local and foreign law enforcement agencies to curb organised international illegal immigration activities.

  4. To oversee the work relating to international security and law and order, which include the keeping of undesirable people out of Hong Kong, removing undesirables from Hong Kong and assisting the Police and other law enforcing agencies in the apprehension of wanted criminals.

  5. To fine-tune and solve problems in relation to control over legal and illegal immigration.

  6. To plan and oversee new immigration control point projects.

Enclosure 4 to EC(97-98)39

Revised Job Description of AD (Visa Policy and Special Duties) [AD(VP)]

Responsible to the Director of Immigration through the Deputy Director of Immigration for the following duties and responsibilities :

  1. To assist in the adaptation of immigration and related laws arising from the reunification.

  2. To carry out residual work undertaken by AD(SD) before the reunification.

  3. To assist in the formulation and implementation of visa policies.

  4. To oversee, fine-tune and solve problems on visa control work.

  5. To conduct policy review on visa matters and make recommendations for improvement.

  6. To explain policy changes in response to representations from the public and to answer queries from Members of the Executive Council and the Provisional Legislative Council.

  7. To handle residual matters relating to Vietnamese refugees/Vietnamese migrants/Vietnamese illegal immigrants/Ex-China Vietnamese illegal immigrants.

  8. To handle litigation relating to judicial review, damage claims, writs of habeas corpus corpus, etc. from Vietnamese migrants and Ex-China Vietnamese illegal immigrants.

Enclosure 5 to EC(97-98)39

Proposed Job Description of AD (Liaison and Support) [AD(LS)]

Responsible to the Director of Immigration through the Deputy Director of Immigration for the following duties and responsibilities :

  1. To assist in negotiating with foreign government on visa abolition agreements or arrangements for HKSAR passport holders and favourable travel arrangements for holders of other HKSAR travel documents.

  2. To assist in promoting the acceptance of Hong Kong travel documents by other countries. These include the British National (Overseas) Passports, the Certificates of Identity and Documents of Identity.

  3. To prepare for and to follow up on the Director of Immigration's meetings with foreign government officials.

    To conduct policy review on matters relating to visa abolition agreements and make recommendations for improvement.

  4. To assist in overseeing the implementation of the Certificate of Entitlement Scheme and in monitoring developments in the operation of the One-way Permit Quota System.

  5. To act, internally, as the departmental co-ordinator with other branches in the Immigration Department and, externally, with relevant Policy Bureaux, Mainland authorities and foreign government on immigration matters mentioned above.

  6. To support the Security Bureau in conducting briefings to the Legislative Council on immigration matters mentioned above.

  7. To instruct the Department of Justice on ROA litigations, to assess the implications of ROA provisions under the Basic Law in light of the Court rulings and to work out solutions to new problems arising thereof.

Last Updated on 4 December 1997