scmp.com: 100,000 tipped for HK under new abode policy
Chan and Phyllis Tsang
Updated on Apr 01, 2011
A new policy making it easier for the grown-up mainland offspring of Hongkongers to emigrate to the city goes into force today after years of debate and anguish for split families.
About 160,000 mainlanders were eligible, but no more than 100,000 were expected to move to the city, a person familiar with the policy said.
The new immigration policy ends a decade-long saga over the right of abode, and the city is preparing for this group to be a new workforce to ease mounting demand in the construction and catering industries.
Under the new arrangement, the grown-up children of Hongkongers born on the mainland who were under 14 when their natural father or mother obtained a Hong Kong identity card, before November 2001, will be eligible for right of abode.
According to a government study in 1999 on the number of people who would come to Hong Kong, a total of 169,000 mainland children born within registered marriages would be eligible - the first-generation legitimate children of Hong Kong permanent residents on the mainland.
"If we assume that about 60 per cent of them will come here in the end, we are talking about 100,000 people here," said the person familiar with the policy, after analysing mobility of the grown-up mainlanders.
"We expect some 60 to 70 people will come every day and this means all will arrive in town in four to five years," he said.
This would be a healthy, youthful influx given the the city's ageing population, with the majority of people aged between 30 and 50, he said.
Security Bureau principal assistant secretary Maggie Wong Siu-chu said yesterday it was still difficult at this stage to make an accurate estimate of the number of eligible mainlanders who would come to Hong Kong under the scheme.
"The number of eligible applicants would be around the tens of thousands," Wong said.
It would take about three months for applicants to get through the process once they provided sufficient documents for the proceedings, she said.
Fu Bing, an officer of the New Home Association, set up last year to assist new immigrants, said the group had received about 200 calls from grown-up mainlanders on application procedures.
The association was helping to arrange jobs for new migrants in construction, such as bar bender work, and in catering or security.