In a recent update, the Hong Kong Immigration Department (HKID) has made it mandatory for applicants of the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) and other talent admission schemes to declare any past criminal convictions during their online application process. Relevant talent admission schemes including:
- General Employment Policy
- Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals
- Technology Talent Admission Scheme
- Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates
- Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents
Additionally, those who have already submitted their applications are required to update their records with this information. It is important to note that applicants must provide accurate and complete information, as providing false information is considered a criminal offence that carries a severe penalty of up to HK$150,000 fine and 14 years imprisonment upon conviction.
This announcement underscores the HKID’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of Hong Kong, and emphasizes the need for full disclosure from applicants seeking visas for entry into the city.
Sudden Policy Change on Criminal Checks
The lack of a criminal record check for Hong Kong visas came to light after controversial scientist He Jiankui had successfully applied through Hong Kong’s Top Talent Pass Scheme, which previously did not require criminal checks.
The Chinese biophysicist was jailed over gene-editing babies and was broadly condemned for having gone ahead with an ethically contentious and medically unjustified procedure paired with a lack of adequate consent from the families involved.
His visa was voided on suspicion of “false statements,” and criminal investigations were launched. Subsequently, the HKID proceeded to roll out requirements that applicants of several of the city’s talent admission schemes – including the general work visa, one that targets those in the tech industry, and the admission scheme for mainland Chinese professionals – to declare any prior criminal convictions.
What Exactly Are Criminal Checks?
Criminal Background Checks ensure that you know the most relevant information about a potential candidate’s ability to perform responsibly in a particular role by searching recognized police service records and/or court files to reveal disclosable court outcomes for offences.
A criminal background check involves a search of recognized police service records and/or court files against a person’s name/s and personal details in the given jurisdiction. This check reveals all disclosable court outcomes for offences, excluding spent convictions (spent conviction legislation allows the criminal records of certain offenders to be amended by removing specific offences after a period of time).
Each jurisdiction has its own processes for recording, storing, and expunging details of court conviction and criminal history information.
How Can Sterling RISQ help?
As the HKSAR government continues to adjust and review various visa policies and related procedures from time to time, continued adjustments will be made according to the situation. As an expert in the Asia-Pacific region, Sterling RISQ is attuned to these jurisdictional differences. We have significant experience in understanding the nuances of each system in the Asia-Pacific region.
Sterling RISQ offers background screening services in Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region, and has experience in tailoring screening packages for all roles and organization types. Protect your business from fraudulent candidates by getting in touch with Sterling RISQ today to discuss a background screening package suited for your organization.
Contact us today to discuss a background screening package suited for your organization and ensure that your hires are compliant and ready with the right set of screening frameworks.