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Global Corporate Immigration and Citizenship Update: Hong Kong, Singapore and St Kitts & Nevis
28/05/2015

Rosemont provides advice an assistance to individuals concerning their choice of residence and citizenship. Some recent changes to the rules in Hong Kong, Singapore, St Kitts & Nevis, Dominica and Grenada are detailed below:


Hong Kong

The Immigration Department of Hong Kong has announced a number of changes to the Admission Scheme for Second Generation (ASSG) Chinese who are permanent residents in Hong Kong, as well as enhancements to the schemes to attract talent, professionals and entrepreneurs to Hong Kong.

ASSG

The purpose of ASSG is to encourage the children of Chinese permanently resident in Hong Kong, who have emigrated overseas to return to their home in Hong Kong. The scheme is directed at the second generation who have been educated to degree standard and are aged between 18 and 40 with knowledge of Chinese and English. Applicants can submit an application for a 12 month visa with no requirement to have a prior job offer in Hong Kong. The application can be made either abroad or in Hong Kong. There is no quota on the applications.

Talent Admission Scheme

Changes to enhanced talent admission were announced by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive on the occasion of  the 2015 Policy Address. Hong Kong will now be pursuing an increasingly proactive approach to recruit talent and professionals from abroad, by making Hong Kong a more attractive destination for these individuals.

The stay arrangements under the existing talent admission schemes, in particular the General Employment Policy, Quality Migrant Admission Scheme and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professional, have all been relaxed. Under the Quality Migrant Scheme the points biased system has been relaxed to make it easier for individuals with an excellent education or international work experience to meet the criteria. The admission arrangements for entrepreneurs will be more clearly set out and will apply to start-up entrepreneurs.

The duration of an individual’s stay under the General Employment Policy and the Quality Migrant Scheme will also be extended. The current initial stay duration of one year, will be extended to an initial stay period of two years and two additional three year extensions.

A more generous stay duration is possible for top tier professionals who currently hold a Hong Kong visa under the General Employment Policy and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talent Scheme. Applicants under those schemes, who have received a visa entitling them to a stay of two years, might be eligible to an extension of six years, subject to certain conditions being met. The conditions include, a verified salary of at least HK$2 million, approximately US$258,000, in the previous tax year.

Outside of Hong Kong steps will be taken to publicise the various admission schemes. A spokesperson for the Immigration Department placed the changes in context stating,  "In view of the ageing population and shrinking labour force in Hong Kong, we need to ensure that our admission schemes can attract and retain talent, professionals and entrepreneurs from outside Hong Kong to support our economic development."


Singapore

The Ministry of Manpower has announced that to expedite the processing of work passes applications will only be accepted online.  Manual applications are no longer accepted. As a result of the change the processing time will be cut from the present five week needed to process manual applications to a week under the online process.

The change to the procedure will affect Employment Passes, S Passes, Dependent Passes, Work Permits and Long Terms Visit Passes. Employers will need to obtain an Employment Pass Online (EPOL) account to make applications.

The Ministry of Manpower recognises that in certain circumstances manual applications are beneficial and have retained the system for:

Personalise Employment Passes, Sponsorship Employment Passes and Entre Pass;

Start-ups in Singapore without an agent to act on their behalf under an EPOL account can appoint their immigration agent to assist with the EPOL registration;

Companies may continue to use the manual process if their internal policies do not permit the use of the online procedure; and

Certain foreign nationals when converting to an Employment Pass.

The changes are expected to ensure the efficient and prompt processing of applications for the benefit of both employers and employees alike.


St Kitts & Nevis

Reform of the Citizenship by Investment Programme

In the course of 2014, as a result of concerns as to the operation of the Citizenship by Investment Programme, the United States issued financial advisory against holders of passports issued under the Programme and Canada revoked visa free travel for the citizens of St Kitts & Nevis.

To address these concerns the Prime Minister of St Kitts & Nevis, Mr Timothy Harris, has announced a wide ranging reform of the Citizenship Programme. As part of the reforms the Prime Minister pledged steps would be taken to ensure no undesirable individuals would be permitted to take advantage of the Programme and continued:

‘We shall make provisions to revoke the citizenship of any economic citizen who within five years of the issuance of the certificate of registration, commits a serious crime like an act of terrorism, or appears on an international sanctions list, or on a wanted list of any country or international body, or is named in any scandal that might bring our country into disrepute.

‘The Citizenship By Investment programme has become a catalyst for growth and development in the Federation and is integral to the country’s economic success and social stability.’

When the concerns of governments came to light St Kitts & Nevis commissioned a report by independent experts and will now implement the report’s twenty recommendations. The changes are intended to improve risk assessment, mitigate risk and to enhance the existing processing ability.

There will also be structural revisions to the organisation and management processes when assessing applications. The changes will also extend to a review and reassessment of applications that have already been approved and the revocation of citizenship, where appropriate.

Such changes are necessary to reassure the USA, Canada and the EU whose acceptance of the programme is essential for its continuing operation. Mr Harris concluded by reassuring partner governments that St Kitts & Nevis is, ‘… committed to expeditiously putting the necessary reforms in place to ensure the long-term economic stability of the programme.’


Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago Schengen visa free travel

With effect from 28 May, 2015 nationals from Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago will be able to travel throughout the European Schengen area for 90 days within any 180 day period without a visa.

The exception however, will be persons traveling for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity, in that event a visa would be required.


For more information on these topics or to be put in contact with our tax and estate planning team please contact Peter Brigham at p.brigham@rosemont-mc.com.

For more information on services provided through Rosemont (Hong Kong) Ltd please see: http://www.rosemont.hk or contact Raphael Beaudrey at r.beaudrey@rosemont.hk

For more information on services provided through Rosemont in Singapore Ltd please see: http://www.rosemont.sg or contact Pierre Vanrenterghem p.vanren@rosemont.sg