The Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2020, which is expected to come into effect on 1 August 2021, proposes to increase penalties for employers who employ individuals not lawfully employable. Currently, employers may be subject to a maximum fine of HKD350,000 and 3 years’ imprisonment but after these new provisions come into effect, employers may be subject to a maximum fine of HKD500,000 and 10 years’ imprisonment in relation to the employment of “prohibited employees”. Importantly, the Bill includes overstayers (i.e. those who have been given permission to land in Hong Kong but remain in Hong Kong in breach of his/her limit of stay) in the definition of “prohibited employee”. Further, if it is proved that the offence of employing those not lawfully employable was committed with the consent or connivance of, or was attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of a body corporate or a partner in a partnership, such persons will be considered to also have committed the offence.

Employers should therefore ensure that their foreign employees who require visas to work in Hong Kong do not breach their conditions of stay by overstaying and that they successfully obtain extensions in good time before their limit of stay expires.