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Published: 18:50, March 23, 2023
CIES attracts 8,000 applications, $30.6b capital inflows
By Oswald Chan
Published:18:50, March 23, 2023 By Oswald Chan

This file photo dated Jun 27, 2017 shows the scenery on the both sides of the Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, south China. The revived Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) is expected to attract 8,000 applications in its first year, and to lead to capital inflows of HK$240 billion ($30.58 billion) into Hong Kong, according to an Immigration consultancy. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The revived Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) is expected to attract 8,000 applications in its first year, and to lead to capital inflows of HK$240 billion ($30.58 billion) into Hong Kong, according to an Immigration consultancy.

Midland Immigration Consultancy suggested that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government shorten the program’s approval process to help enhance its appeal.

The HKSAR government launched CIES in 2003 to woo high net worth billionaires to settle in Hong Kong, hoping this would widen the city’s talent pool, attract new capital to the city and boost economic development

“We suggest the government shorten the approval process — to allow eligible incoming talents, upon becoming permanent residents, to apply for a refund of the extra stamp duty paid for purchasing residential property in Hong Kong; as well as to provide a broad and diversified investment product range, to enhance the attractiveness of the immigration program,” Midland Immigration Consultancy Senior Manager Justin Chu said in a press conference on Thursday.

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The HKSAR government launched CIES in 2003 to woo high net worth billionaires to settle in Hong Kong, hoping this would widen the city’s talent pool, attract new capital to the city and boost economic development. The administration then tightened the application threshold in 2010 before scrapping the program in 2015.

The HKSAR government announced that it will revive the program in the 2023-24 Budget delivered in February. It will grant Hong Kong permanent residency status to applicants if they make investments of a certain amount in the local asset market, excluding property.

According to Midland Immigration Consultancy’s data, the government had approved 35,262 applications that has lured over HK$300 billion in capital inflows to the city between 2003 and 2015.

Tina Cheng, the immigration service firm’s senior director for business strategy, said that there has been a 20 percent to 30 percent annual decrease in the number of inquiries regarding Hong Kong residents’ emigration to countries such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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“Starting this year, clients’ inquiries are mainly concerned over overseas property purchases, and children education,” Cheng said.

She also said that “a small number of the immigration service firm’s clients are not satisfied with their lives” when they move overseas, adding that some “have already relocated back to Hong Kong”.

“I think the trend of emigration in Hong Kong will gradually slow down,” Cheng said.

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