Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS)
1.1 What is the Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS)?
TechTAS provides a fast-track arrangement for eligible companies to admit overseas and Mainland technology talent to undertake research and development ("R&D") work for them. Eligible companies would first have to apply for a quota. A company allotted with a quota can accordingly sponsor eligible persons to apply for an employment visa / entry permit within the 24-month quota validity period.
1.2 What are the merits of TechTAS?
By allotting companies with quotas 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 companies 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 company 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.
2.1 What companies are eligible to make quota application under TechTAS?
To apply for a quota under TechTAS, the company must –
- have substantive business in Hong Kong and with a valid Business Registration Certificate; and
- be engaged in R&D in the area of advanced communication technologies, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, digital entertainment, financial technologies, green technology, integrated circuit design, Internet-of-Things, material science, microelectronics, quantum technology or robotics.
2.2 Who may apply for employment visa / entry permit using the quota allotted under TechTAS?
The non-local technology talent admitted under TechTAS must be –
- employed as full-time employees in Hong Kong by the applicant company;
- engaged principally in conducting R&D in the areas of advanced communication technologies, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, digital entertainment, financial technologies, green technology, integrated circuit design, Internet-of-Things, material science, microelectronics, quantum technology or robotics;
- 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 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), Times Higher Education, Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) (also known as Shanghai Ranking)) and U.S. News and World Report’s Best Global Universities Rankings (USNWR). 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 working experience in the relevant technology area; and
- offered remuneration not lower than 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.
2.3 Can a non-local academic teaching staff be admitted to work in Hong Kong using TechTAS?
The non-local technology talent admitted under TechTAS must be engaged principally in conducting R&D in the specified technology areas. Academic staff who mainly focus on teaching work do not fall into the scope.
3. Quota Application and Usage
3.1 How to apply for a quota under TechTAS?
Applicants which are 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) or the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport) should submit their completed quota application forms to the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) via HKSTPC / Cyberport.
Applicants which are NOT tenants / incubatees / grantees / occupants of HKSTPC or Cyberport should submit their completed quota application forms to the ITC via the Government e-Form portal.
3.2 Once a quota is allotted, when could overseas / Mainland technology talent be sponsored to apply for an employment visa / entry permit to work in Hong Kong?
Each quota will be valid for 24 months. Within such quota validity period, the applicant company 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.
3.3 How will a quota application be processed?
For Applicants which are tenants / incubatees / grantees / occupants of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) or the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (Cyberport) –
HKSTPC / Cyberport, upon receipt of the quota applications, will process and assess the applications, and make recommendations to the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC). ITC will then consider the applications and HKSTPC / Cyberport's recommendations. ITC may approve the quota request in full or in part, or reject it altogether, notwithstanding the recommendations of HKSTPC / Cyberport. During the processing of quota application, HKSTPC / Cyberport or ITC may request the applicant company to submit additional information to justify its case.
For Applicants which are NOT tenants / incubatees / grantees / occupants of HKSTPC or Cyberport –
Upon receipt of the quota applications, ITC will consider the applications and may approve the quota request in full or in part, or reject it altogether. During the processing of quota application, ITC may request the applicant company to submit additional information to justify its case and / or conduct an on-site visit.
Application Result –
Applicant companies will be informed of the application result in writing.
If a quota application is approved, ITC will issue a quota allotment letter to the applicant company. It will state the number of quotas of non-local persons to be admitted and relevant particulars being approved, including the technology area(s) involved, main job duties, academic qualifications / expertise required and remuneration package pertaining to the job position(s), and any other terms and conditions of the approved quota(s). Within the total number of allotted quotas, the company would have the flexibility to admit the exact number of non-local persons for the different job duties set out in the quota allotment letter to suit its needs.
3.4 How long will it take to approve the quota after submission of application?
During the processing of quota application, Innovation and Technology Commission may request the applicant company to submit additional information to justify its case and / or conduct an on-site visit. Upon receipt of all necessary information and documents, the normal processing time of a quota application will be two weeks. However, site visit would render additional processing time of the quota application.
3.5 What are the quota assessment criteria?
Each eligible quota application will be assessed on its own merits having regard to the following considerations –
- The knowledge or skillsets of the required technology talent must align with the applicant company's technology activities. In particular, the applicant company must demonstrate its engagement in R&D activities in at least one of the technology areas specified in 2.1 above;
- The number of quota requested is justified for the applicant company (e.g. in terms of business volume, venue, and expansion plans);
- The applicant company has demonstrated genuine difficulties in recruiting local talent in the technology areas concerned;
- The academic qualifications or other expertise as well as the remuneration packages of the required non-local technology talent are suitable; and
- Any past adverse records of the applicant company under TechTAS (e.g. having made false representations or misrepresentations in previous quota or employment visa / entry permit applications under TechTAS, having breached the terms and conditions of quota allotment, etc.).
3.6 At the quota application stage, the applicant company would need to confirm difficulties in recruiting the required technology talent locally. Would it need to make a recruitment advertisement for a certain period to satisfy this requirement?
We expect the applicant company to describe why the local workforce does not possess sufficient talent for the skill / experience required (e.g. a certain area is new to Hong Kong companies and / or local universities have not yet trained sufficient number of graduates in a certain niche area). Alternatively, the applicant company may choose to put up recruitment advertisement – this would be one of the means to demonstrate the shortage but not the necessary means.
The Innovation and Technology Commission / Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation / Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited will consider if each case is justified.
3.7 What would happen if a company is unable to use up the quota allotted to it?
The Innovation and Technology Commission will decide whether an "adverse record" will be attached to the company if it, without valid justification, has not well utilised the quota(s) allotted. An adverse record may lead to the following consequences –
- any unused quota allotted to the company would be suspended;
- the credibility of the company in making any new quota application will be affected.
3.8 Will the approval of a quota application under TechTAS entail an automatic approval of an individual's employment visa / entry permit application by the Immigration Department?
No. The Immigration Department will consider each visa / entry permit application based on its individual merits, having regard to, among other things, whether the applicant meets the normal immigration requirements. In addition, the applicant talent's main job duties, academic qualification, technical skills, work experience, and remuneration package, etc. should fully meet the requirements under the specific quota allotted.
4. Relationship with the “Research Talent Hub” (which merges the former “Researcher Programme” and “Postdoctoral Hub”)
4.1 Can non-local research talent admitted under TechTAS benefit from the “Research Talent Hub”?
Yes. Any eligible technology companies, including companies which are required to admit non-local research talent under TechTAS, may apply for funding under the Research Talent Hub.
The Research Talent Hub provides funding support to eligible companies and organisations to recruit research talent with a bachelor / master / doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) related discipline to conduct R&D work. Each eligible company can obtain funding assistance to recruit a maximum of 4 research talent under the Research Talent Hub. Please refer to www.itf.gov.hk/en/funding-programmes/nurturing-talent/research-talent-hub/index.html for more information.
5. Comparison with Other Admission Schemes
5.1 Will a company allotted with a quota under TechTAS still be able to sponsor non-local technology talent to work in Hong Kong under the General Employment Policy (GEP) and Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)?
Yes. Please also refer to 5.2.
5.2 How should a company choose between TechTAS, General Employment Policy (GEP) and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)?
It is up to the company to decide under which admission scheme a certain employee should be admitted from overseas / Mainland.
Unlike TechTAS, GEP and ASMTP are quota-free and non-sector specific. On the other hand, TechTAS is technology-specific and subject to a different set of eligibility criteria in particular requiring technology talent to have certain technological knowledge and skills (see 2.1 – 2.2 on eligibility).
Given the differences between the schemes, a company may consider whether its target employees to be admitted from overseas / Mainland meet the eligibility criteria under TechTAS. If a company considers that its answer to the question is negative, it should not make an application under TechTAS.
6. Employment Visa / Entry Permit Applications
6.1 What is the condition and pattern of stay for an admitted talent under TechTAS?
Talent admitted under TechTAS will normally be granted an initial stay of 36 months on employment condition, or in accordance with the duration of the employment contract (whichever is shorter), upon entry. They may apply for extension of stay in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) within four weeks before their limit of stay expires. Such applications will be considered only when the applicants continue to meet the eligibility criteria under TechTAS. Successful applicants will normally be granted an extension of stay following the 3-2 year pattern, also on employment condition, or be in accordance with the duration of the employment contract (whichever is shorter).
Talents admitted under TechTAS who continue to meet the eligibility criteria under TechTAS and fulfil the criteria as stipulated in the following paragraph may apply for assessment under the top-tier employment stream. They will normally be granted an extension of stay on time limitation only without other conditions of stay for a period of five years upon approval.
The criteria for top-tier employment stream are as follows:
- the applicant has been permitted to take up employment in the HKSAR under TechTAS for not less than two years; and
- the applicant has an assessable income for salaries tax of not less than HK$2 million in the previous year of assessment.
6.2 Can a talent admitted under TechTAS change employer in Hong Kong?
Talent admitted under TechTAS who are on employment condition shall only take such employment as approved by the Director of Immigration. They should seek prior approval from the Director of Immigration for any change in employment.
If the new employing company has a valid quota under TechTAS, the talent may submit a visa / entry permit application under TechTAS to the Immigration Department. In case the new employing company does not have a valid quota under TechTAS, a new application should be submitted and assessed according to the parameters governing the General Employment Policy or Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals.
6.3 If a talent admitted under TechTAS resigns, can the company apply to admit another talent under the original quota as replacement?
The quota is used whenever an employment visa / entry permit application pertaining to the quota has been approved by the Immigration Department.
The company may apply to admit another non-local talent using another quota. It may also submit a new application for employment visa / entry permit under the General Employment Policy and Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals.
7. Entry of Dependants
7.1 Will a person admitted under TechTAS be able to come along with his / her dependants?
Persons admitted under TechTAS may apply to bring their spouse and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18 to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region under the prevailing dependant policy.
8. Right of Abode
8.1 Will a person admitted under TechTAS be eligible to apply for the right of abode?
Persons admitted under TechTAS who have ordinarily resided in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for a continuous period of not less than seven years may apply for the right of abode in the HKSAR in accordance with the law.