2024 February
Top Talents Settling Down in Hong Kong to Boost its High-Quality Development

Over 110,000 applications received under the various talent admission schemes had been approved as of October last year, fully demonstrating Hong Kong’s extremely high appeal in attracting global talents. The latest Policy Address also announced the expansion of the list of eligible universities under the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) and the establishment of the Hong Kong Talent Engage office (HKTE), with the expectation that foreign talents would put down their roots here and contribute to Hong Kong.

Benson Kwok

Further Facilitate Talents to Come to Hong Kong
Through Professionalism and Tech Application

The HKSAR Government has implemented a series of talent attraction measures since 2022 to actively enrich Hong Kong’s talent pool. The Immigration Department (ImmD), which is responsible for the examination and approval process, plays an important role by continuously reviewing and improving various arrangements for the admission of talents to facilitate their entry into Hong Kong.
Benson Kwok, Director of Immigration, witnesses the continuous enhancement of those talent attraction measures, so as to enrich Hong Kong’s talent pool. For example, since November last year, they have expanded the list of eligible universities for the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) and temporarily exempt full-time non-local postgraduate students from restrictions on taking up part-time jobs. The new Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) will also accept applications at a later stage. In addition, the Vocational Professionals Admission Scheme, which is designed to attract vocational professionals to stay in Hong Kong for development, will have details announced once they are finalized.


Enhance electronic services and improve application process

“The relevant schemes have produced very good results. Since last year, more than 130,000 talent admission applications have received approval and about 90,000 approved talent visa holders have arrived in Hong Kong, far surpassing the original target of bringing in at least 35,000 talents annually.” Kwok explained that among the schemes, TTPS has the most enthusiastic response, with about 65,000 applications received as of the end of last year and over 50,000 applications approved so far.
Kwok said that to cope with the constant increase in visa applications, the ImmD continues to leverage technology to enhance electronic services to provide applicants with more convenient channels for visa applications. He further said that among them, the electronic visa application service was extended to all visa application types in late November 2022, thus achieving comprehensive electronic visa services to make submission of visa applications more convenient and faster. “As at the end of December last year, over 770,000 and 1,010,000 persons used electronic services for visa application and paying the fee respectively, accounting for almost 40% and 60% of the overall number of applications and e-payment respectively.
Kwok stressed that the ImmD will fully cooperate with the various measures to attract talents as they will help Hong Kong bring in outstanding talents from around the world. “The ImmD will review manpower arrangements in a timely manner, allocate resources as needed, continuously improve the workflow for handling application cases and streamline the processing procedures for visa applications to relieve the work pressure of frontline staff.”

Continuously review service arrangements to comprehensively improve efficiency

Kwok further introduced the process of promoting electronic visa application services. He said that since April last year, the ImmD has extended the electronic visa application service arrangement for TTPS to four other talent admission schemes. Applicants do not need to go to the ImmD office in person or apply by mail during the entire process from submitting the application, paying the fee to collecting the electronic visa.
“The relevant electronic services and arrangements, which have been operating smoothly and orderly since their implementation, can improve the efficiency of visa service processes and case processing.” Kwok further said that the ImmD will continue to pay close attention to the implementation of the electronic visa services and review the relevant arrangements in a timely manner.

Fully support HKTE to enrich local talent pool

Kwok stressed that the ImmD will continue to review and improve the various arrangements for talent admission to formulate a more targeted and attractive talent entry plan. It is also committed to striking an appropriate balance between immigration control and facilitating the entry and stay of talents in Hong Kong.
Kwok said that the ImmD team will continue to exert its professional and efficient spirit to review and process various visa applications so that talents can come to Hong Kong for development as quickly as possible. Going forward, we will also actively cooperate with relevant agencies to jointly promote the various talent admission schemes and fully support the work of Hong Kong Talent Engage (HKTE), striving to attract companies and talents from around the world to settle in Hong Kong.

Anthony Lau

HKTE Has Diverse Strategies to Attract and

Retain Talents, with Focus on the Mainland and Eye on the World

Following the launch of the online platform of the Talents Service Unit in 2022, John Lee, Chief Executive, set up Hong Kong Talent Engage (HKTE) in October last year. Anthony Lau, Director of HKTE, stressed that the two most important functions of HKTE are “attracting talents” and “providing support.” He also said that it will employ multiple strategies to attract and retain talents going forward.
The work of HKTE mainly covers five aspects, including analyzing talent deployment; launching targeted publicity to make talents around the world aware of Hong Kong’s various measures to attract talents; formulating talent recruitment strategies to proactively attract talents through industry connections; recruiting partners to organize various activities to provide information and encourage talents to relocate to and stay in Hong Kong for development; and keeping in touch with talents who are now here to understand their development and needs in Hong Kong, and adjust the support services for them in a timely manner. Lau revealed that HKTE, which currently has a team of about 30 people, has been carrying out various tasks to attract talents.


Five strategies to enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness in attracting talents

“To understand the talent needs of various industries, HKTE’s first strategy is to study the talent list.” Lau said that HKTE’s insights team will focus on analyzing the talent needs of existing professions and the regional distribution of talents to identify key markets. “By formulating targeted publicity strategies, we will let them know that we can provide them with support and services.”
Lau stressed that besides formulating publicity strategies, HKTE will also partner with different organizations to build platforms for attracting talents, and support chambers of commerce and organisations to hold job fairs in the Mainland and overseas to reach out to and recruit target talents. This is HKTE’s third strategy. He revealed that HKTE has contacted many companies in the past few months and will discuss the space for cooperation in detail later.
Offering “after-sales service” is HKTE’s fourth strategy. “HKTE not only offers one-stop support and consulting services, but also provides support by setting up different consulting channels. We also actively expand our partner network and hold both online and offline activities to provide information and facilitate talent interactions so that they can integrate into the new life in Hong Kong as soon as possible,” Lau said.
Lau added that to ensure the relevant measures and support meet the needs of talents coming to Hong Kong, HKTE’s fifth strategy is to actively maintain contact with talents who are already here to understand their development and needs in Hong Kong, and adjust the services for them in a timely manner.


Hong Kong’s biggest selling point is motherland’s backing and connection with the world

In recent years, various parts of the world, including neighbouring cities, have successively introduced measures to attract talents. Moreover, their subsidies and tax incentives in this regard are very attractive. Some people said that they have outshone Hong Kong in appeal. In Lau’s view, Hong Kong’s biggest selling point is its advantages and opportunities. “As Hong Kong is a bridge connecting with the world and has the backing of the motherland, it is easier for talents from around the world to integrate into Hong Kong that is a platform for attracting investments.” Recently, the Government has also launched a series of measures to attract talents, including the stamp-duty suspension mechanism for eligible incoming talents purchasing residential property in Hong Kong.
Lau stressed that in addition to concentrating on attracting talents from the Mainland, HKTE also focuses on other parts of the world, including ASEAN countries that have emerged rapidly in recent years. “Entrepreneurs, business leaders, and students from famous universities are also the targets of HKTE.”


Global talent summit to be held in Hong Kong this year

Lau said that HKTE will hold Global Talent Summit & GBA High-quality Talent Development Conference this year to publicize and promote Hong Kong’s advantages to people around the world, facilitate interactions and cooperation among talents in the Greater Bay Area, and promote the Greater Bay Area’s development opportunities to global talents.
Lau is convinced that such large-scale events will help encourage global talents to use Hong Kong as a base to seek suitable opportunities for development in the Mainland. “Going forward, HKTE will continue to work closely with talent service units in the Greater Bay Area and the HKSAR Government’s overseas offices to make good use of resources for publicity and promotion.”
Jesse Shang

Commitment to Help Top Talents Integrate into Hong Kong and

Fully Showcase Their Expertise

The Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) is expected to help supplement various types of talents for different industries. However, Jesse Shang, Founding President of the Hong Kong Top Talent Services Association (HKTTSA) and Member of the Legislative Council for the Election Committee constituency, believes that the authorities must launch a series of support services and measures to attract these top talents to Hong Kong for long-term stay and even put down their roots here.
Regarding the various schemes actively launched by Hong Kong to attract talents, Shang said that TTPS is a major milestone marking a change in the HKSAR Government’s approach to attract talents. Specifically, it has shifted from a “selection system” driven by a select committee or the market to a “threshold system” with clearly indicated application qualifications.


Turn rise in numbers into increase in tax revenue

This move can better leverage the efficiency of local civil servants so that talents can be given approval within hours at the earliest or within months at the latest to come to Hong Kong. “Over 47,000 applicants have been approved to come to Hong Kong under TTPS in just one year. About 76% of them have applied for identity documents in Hong Kong.” Shang added that the number of dependents brought along by the approved applicants has almost exceeded a ratio of one-to-one, with about 30,000 under the age of 18. If these top talents bring along their families to Hong Kong to work or start a business, it will help resolve social issues such as insufficient school enrolment.
Shang said that in the next stage, the authorities should focus on exploring how to turn the rise in such numbers gained from TTPS into increases in tax revenue and school places. “The addition to Hong Kong’s tax base that these talents bring, and the needs for schooling, home renting and even residential property buying as they arrange for their families to come to live in Hong Kong, will be of great help to boost Hong Kong’s economic development.”
However, Shang stressed that to attract more top talents to make up their minds to come to Hong Kong for long-term stay and career development, the authorities must as soon as possible resolve the seven most common issues that top talents face when coming to Hong Kong to help them adapt to a completely different living environment. These issues include: (1) the need to make clear the application criteria for visa renewal after two years; (2) huge demand for consultation on children’s education; (3) inability to bring funds to Hong Kong, which is a hindrance to starting a business; (4) narrow demand for skills that can be absorbed by Hong Kong; (5) living issues such as healthcare and housing; (6) cultural differences; and (7) insufficient awareness of local laws and regulations.


Support top talents arriving in Hong Kong to fully showcase their expertise

Shang said that Hong Kong, backed by the motherland, has a natural advantage in attracting the Mainland’s elites, but neighbouring regions such as Singapore are also attractive to top talents. “For example, Singapore has always been regarded as a bridge connecting the ASEAN market, and it has greater development opportunities than Hong Kong in pan-industrial areas such as advanced manufacturing.” Therefore, Shang stressed that the HKSAR Government must strengthen support for top talents so that they are able to find suitable jobs soon after arriving in Hong Kong, instead of being forced to cut their salaries or humble themselves to engage in jobs that do not match their expertise.


Shang is pleased to see in the new Policy Address that Chief Executive John Lee has stated the implementation of the stamp-duty suspension mechanism for eligible incoming talents purchasing residential property in Hong Kong. This is an improvement from the previous year’s arrangement under which eligible incoming talents may apply for refund of such stamp duty, which is set to have a positive impact on attracting top talents to come to live in Hong Kong.


Provide entrepreneurial support to expand industrial ecosystem

In addition, support for entrepreneurship is also crucial. Shang said that a recent survey showed that about a quarter of the top talents intend to start a business in Hong Kong. Further resolving issues such as those involving their inability to bring funds to Hong Kong, corporate bank account opening and MPF will help more top talents succeed in starting their own businesses. This not only would create a more extensive industrial ecosystem for Hong Kong, but is also beneficial to the long-term development of the local professional services industry.
Since its establishment less than half a year ago, HKTTSA has attracted over 11,000 top talents arriving in Hong Kong to become members. Shang said that HKTTSA actively hosts talks for its members to help them and their family members integrate into life in Hong Kong as soon as possible. He looks to working together with the authorities, business community and civic groups in the future to provide more diversified support services for top talents coming to Hong Kong.
With the arrival of 2024, Shang revealed that he has formulated a “Ten-Hundred-Thousand Project” for HKTTSA. “‘Ten’ refers to setting up an industry salon where 10 representative top talents and Hong Kongers will be invited to share updates on the development trends of different industries; ‘Hundred’ refers to enabling over 100 top talents to establish an entrepreneur club; and ‘Thousand’ refers to the goal of working with all sectors of society to help top talents set up 1,000 or more businesses in Hong Kong.”