To meet the needs of the innovation and technology (I&T) sector in getting talent, the Hong Kong SAR announced on 8 May it will roll out a Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS) to provide a fast-track arrangement for the admission of overseas and Mainland research and development talent. Successful technology companies and institutes will be given quotas for bringing in such people. The scheme will run on a pilot basis for three years. A maximum of 1000 persons will be admitted in the first year of operation.
As a start, the TechTAS will be open to tenants and incubatees of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) and Cyberport that are engaged in the areas of biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, data analytics, financial technologies and material science.
TechTAS is a three-year pilot scheme which provides a fast-track arrangement for eligible technology companies/institutes to admit overseas and Mainland technology talent to undertake R&D work for them. Eligible technology companies/institutes would first have to apply for a quota. A company/institute allotted with a quota can accordingly sponsor eligible persons to apply for an employment visa/entry permit within the quota validity period. It also has to fulfill the requirement to employ new local employees.
By allotting applicant technology companies/institutes with a quota to admit technology talent with specific requirements, TechTAS will provide certainty for them to proceed with their recruitment and business plan.
While TechTAS would require the applicant technology companies/institutes to demonstrate at the quota application stage that the technology talent sought is short in supply or not readily available in Hong Kong, by doing away with the requirement to demonstrate local recruitment failure each and every time they seek to bring in talent, the actual admission procedure will be streamlined and thus be considerably shorter.
Once the applicant technology company/institute has identified a suitable candidate fitting the requirements in the allotted quota, it would take a shorter period of time for the individual to obtain the visa/entry permit – the Immigration Department envisages that the normal processing time for visa/entry permit applications could be shortened to two weeks, upon receipt of all the required documents.
To apply for a quota under TechTAS, the applying technology company/institute must be –
(a)a tenant/incubatee/grantee/occupant of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) (including Hong Kong Science Park, InnoCentre, or the industrial estates managed by HKSTPC) or Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport); and
(b)engaged in the area of biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, data analytics, financial technologies or material science.
The non-local technology talent admitted under TechTAS must be-
(a)employed as full-time employees in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by the applicant company/institute;
(b)engaged principally in conducting R&D in the areas of biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, data analytics, financial technologies or material science;
(c)degree-holders in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) from a well-recognised university (this refers to the top 100 universities in the latest publications of STEM-related ranking tables of QS, Times Higher Education and Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as Shanghai Ranking). Work experience is not compulsory for those with a Master’s or Doctoral degree, whereas those with a Bachelor’s degree only should possess a minimum of one year of work experience in the relevant technology area; and
(d)offered remuneration broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for comparable jobs in Hong Kong.
Technology talent not meeting the academic requirements in (c) above but possess good technical skills in specialty areas, proven professional abilities and/or relevant experience and achievements supported by documentary evidence can be considered on a case-by-case basis with full justifications.
When making a quota application, the applicant company/institute has to undertake to employ a certain number of new local employees – i.e. for every three non-local persons approved to be admitted under TechTAS, the applicant company/institute would need to employ one new local full-time employee (with an employment contract for at least one year), plus two local interns (for a duration of at least three months). Companies/institutes are welcome to employ more local full-time employees in lieu of local interns. The full-time employees should possess at least a bachelor’s degree while the interns can be undergraduates, graduates or post-graduates.
All these local employees should be engaged in technology-related work. Besides R&D, technology-related work includes positions such as technology or intellectual property lawyer, technology transfer expert, etc., but will not include general supporting positions such as administration clerk.
Tenants/incubatees/grantees/occupants of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) (including Hong Kong Science Park, InnoCentre, or the industrial estates managed by HKSTPC) should submit their completed quota application forms to the Innovation and Technology Commission via HKSTPC.
Tenants/incubatees/occupants of Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport) should submit their completed quota application forms to the Innovation and Technology Commission via Cyberport. In its first year of operation, TechTAS will admit a maximum of 1 000 persons from overseas/Mainland.
The Hong Kong government plans to start receiving quota application in June 2018 – the exact date will be announced in due course. The quota application will be open throughout the year, so long as there is quota not yet allotted. Each applicant technology company/institute may be allotted with a quota to admit not more than 100 persons per year. Each quota will be valid for 6 months. Within such quota validity period, the applicant company/institute may make applications with the Immigration Department to sponsor eligible non-local persons fitting the specification set out in the quota allotment letter to apply for an employment visa/entry permit to work in Hong Kong.
Each eligible quota application will be assessed on its own merits having regard to the following considerations –
(a)The applicant company/institute’s technology activities must align with the knowledge or skillsets of the required technology talent;
(b)The quota requested is justified for the applicant company/institute (e.g. in terms of business volume, venue, and expansion plans);
(c)The applicant company/institute has demonstrated genuine difficulties in recruiting local talent in the technology areas concerned;
(d)The academic qualifications or other expertise as well as the remuneration packages of the required non-local technology talent are suitable; and
(e)Any past adverse records of the applicant company/institute under TechTAS (e.g. have not used up the quota allotted, have not employed the requisite number of local employees, etc.).