VII. Immigration offences

Hong Kong's immigration laws are strictly enforced. There are many offences under the Immigration Ordinance. Some of the main or usual types of immigration offences are highlighted in this section.

Overstaying

This means failing to leave Hong Kong on or before the date that is stamped on the travel document of a visitor or foreign employee. This is a breach of conditions of stay, and the offender will normally be expelled from Hong Kong.

Breach of conditions of stay

This means working (paid or unpaid) in Hong Kong without approval from the Immigration Department, where such approval is required. Section 41 of the Ordinance stipulates that the offender shall be liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for 2 years.

Making false statements

This means giving false information to the Immigration Department for the purposes of obtaining a travel document, certificate of entitlement or entry permit, or in support of an application for permission to enter or to work in Hong Kong. According to section 42 of the Ordinance, the offender shall be liable to a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years (on conviction on indictment), or to a maximum fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for 2 years (on summary conviction).

Employing illegal workers

As mentioned in the section on employment visas, only two groups of people are entitled to work in Hong Kong without requiring prior permission from the Immigration Department. These two groups of people are:

  1. Hong Kong permanent residents (i.e. holders of permanent identity cards); and
  2. non-permanent resident identity card holders whose passports or travel documents are endorsed with permission that does not restrict employment.

It is important to note that employers are liable to a maximum fine of $350,000 and 3 years' imprisonment if they employ persons who are not lawfully employable. More information about illegal workers is given on the website of the Immigration Department.

Regulations for foreigners staying in a hotel

Foreigners who stay in a hotel in Hong Kong are required to provide the hotelkeeper with their full names, nationality, date of arrival and the airline with which they will depart. More details can be found in Immigration Department website.

  1. What should I do if I am investigated by the Immigration Department?
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