Expansion of the Pilot Scheme on Immigration Facilitation for Visitors Participating in Short-term Activities in Designated Sectors

07 February 2023. Published by Andrea Randall, Partner and Lillian Wong, Associate

The "Pilot Scheme on Immigration Facilitation for Visitors Participating in Short-term Activities in Designated Sectors" (the "Pilot Scheme") was launched back on 1 June 2022 to last for two years.  The purpose of the Pilot Scheme is to facilitate business, promote the development of certain sectors and raise Hong Kong's international profile by providing immigration facilitation to visitors invited or sponsored by host organizations endorsed by the relevant government bureaux/departments for undertaking specified short-term activities that are beneficial to Hong Kong ("eligible visitors").  Past examples include non-local talents who competed at the Hong Kong Sevens and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performance in Hong Kong. 

Recently on 31 January 2023, the Government announced that commencing on 1 February 2023, the Pilot Scheme will be expanded to encourage more non-local talents to participate in specified short-term activities as visitors without the need to apply for employment visas or entry permits.  Two new sectors, namely "Finance" and "Development and Construction" will be added to the existing 10 designated sectors  and an additional 50 organisations will be added to the existing list of authorised host organisations.  After expansion, the Pilot Scheme will cover more international events, such as the Asian Financial Forum and international horse racing events.

Restrictions for those entering Hong Kong as a visitor

Under Regulation 2(1) of the Immigration Regulations (Chapter 115A), permission given to a person to land in Hong Kong as a visitor are subject to the following conditions of stay:

(a) he shall not take any employment, whether paid or unpaid;
(b) he shall not establish or join in any business; and
(c) he shall not become a student at a school, university or other educational institution.

Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and to imprisonment for 2 years under section 41 of the Immigration Ordinance (Chapter 115).

Facilitations under the Pilot Scheme

Under the Pilot Scheme, authorised host organisations can issue invitation letters to non-local talents in their sectors.  Eligible visitors will not be required to apply for an employment visa or entry permit from the Immigration Department ("ID") to enter Hong Kong to participate in specified short-term activities as visitors, and may also receive remuneration for participating in the specified activities concerned.  However, the scope of the specified short-term activities and the roles of the eligible visitors as specified in the invitation letters must be strictly adhered to.  

Eligible visitors may participate in the specified short-term activities for up to 14 days consecutive calendar upon each arrival in Hong Kong.  Time will start running on the day they start participating in the specified activity/activities. There is no cap on the number of designated short-term activities the eligible visitors may participate in during the 14-day period.  After participating in the designated activity for not more than 14 consecutive calendar days, eligible visitors may continue to stay in Hong Kong for sight-seeing purposes as a visitor until the expiry of their limit of stay (which in turn depends on the type of travel document they hold).  For eligible visitors who have been permitted to remain in Hong Kong for less than 14 days, the duration they can participate in the designated activities will be shorter accordingly. In this regard, the invitation letter issued by authorised host organisations does not entitle them to remain in Hong Kong for longer.

Moreover, eligible visitors should be aware that invitation letters issued by authorised host organisations are not the equivalent of visa or entry permit letters issued by the ID for entering Hong Kong.  Persons who do not enjoy visa-free concession for visiting Hong Kong must still obtain the necessary visas or entry permits before coming to Hong Kong.

More information on the Pilot Scheme can be found at the Immigration Department's website.


The resumption of global travel, removal of entry restrictions into Hong Kong, coupled with the expansion of the Pilot Scheme is likely conducive to attracting talent from across the globe for exchanges in Hong Kong and creating new business opportunities, further bolstering Hong Kong's reputation and competitiveness as an international hub of business, trade and culture.  Individuals as well as authorised host organisations should familiarize themselves with the requirements and restrictions under the Pilot Scheme and ensure that they seek legal advice where necessary to ensure proper compliance with Hong Kong's immigration and employment laws.

1The existing 10 designated sectors include: medical and healthcare; higher education; arts and culture; sports; heritage; creative industries; innovation and technology; the Hong Kong Laureate Forum; aviation; and international/mega events

Our team at RPC are widely recognized as leading employment lawyers in Hong Kong. We are one of the few specialist employment law practices in Hong Kong and we act for both employers and employees on contentious and non-contentious matters.

Please do not hesitate to contact our Partner and Head of the Employment Practice in Hong Kong, Andrea Randall (andrea.randall@rpc.com.hk / +852 2216 7208) for any queries regarding the issues raised in this article or any employment law related queries you may have. 

All material contained in this article is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal, accounting, financial or tax advice, or as opinion to any person or specific case. RPC accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage arising directly or indirectly from action taken, or not taken, which may arise from reliance on information contained in this article. You are urged to seek legal advice concerning your own situation and any specific legal question that you may have.