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入境處拒林昶佐屬越權兼非法

2018/12/25 — 12:51

【文:腸】

根據香港入境處的《一般就業政策》,「具備香港特別行政區所需而又缺乏的特別技能、知識或經驗」的申請人,在滿足其他條件(包括其「從事的工作 ... 不能輕易覓得本地人擔任」)後,可申請來港工作。[1]

但好明顯入境處就無睇過 Epoch Group Ltd v Director of Immigration [2011] 3 HKLRD H2案。

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時任原訟法庭法官張舉能在該案中指出[2],通常用以審批工作簽證的《一般就業政策》並.不.適.用.於[3]有意到訪香港進行短時間表演的演藝團體。

換言之,就這類團體的成員的工作簽證申請而言,他們是否「具備香港所需而又缺乏的特別技能、知識或經驗 (special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong)」,或他們的工作能否「輕易覓得本地人擔任(readily taken up by the local work force)」,已非入境處可以合法地納入的考慮[4],否則香港永遠也有本地人才,根本不可能舉辦任何國際性的文化交流活動[5]

相反地,入境處在決定是否批准簽證申請時,法律上真正須要考慮並給予極大比重的因素,其實是[6]:

1)外地團體到香港進行文化或藝術交流活動對社會的重大價值;
2)到訪演藝團體的成員不是長期來港「搶人工作」,而是特地為了參加文化或藝術交流活動,短時間內就會離開香港;
3)入境處尤其必須以「演藝團體是不可分割的個體」為基礎考慮簽證申請,若對個別成員作區別對待,在法律上即屬不合理(外地著名的演藝團體大概也不會願意接受這種只有個別成員獲准出席的無理邀請[7])。

根據入境處的信件,他們決定拒絕簽證申請,是因為認為申請者無法滿足上述已被法庭裁定為不相關的標準,但從無考慮法律上真正有關、並支持批出簽證的因素,即使背後沒有政治動機,亦無疑是行政法意義下一個越權、非法的決定。

[1] 如參見保安局局長於十月二十四日在立法會會議上就梁繼昌議員的提問所作的書面答覆
[2] 入境處處長當時亦確認他們實際上不會強行應用《一般就業政策》來處理此類簽證申請:參見第45段。
[3] 第42段('ill-suited')。
[4] 參見第43-44、50、52、60、62、68段。
[5] 參見第57段。
[6] 參見第49-50、57、62、64段。
[7] 參見第54段。

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(English version)

Under the Director of immigration's General Employment Policy, '[a]pplicants who possess special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) may apply to come to work in the HKSAR', if they can satisfy the Direcotor that, amongst other conditions, the job concerned 'cannot be readily taken up by the local work force'.[1]

The Policy's application in the present case, however, is so completely at odds with Epoch Group Ltd v Director of Immigration [2011] 3 HKLRD H2.

There, Andrew Cheung J (as Cheung PJ then was) was clear[2] that the General Employment Policy, as otherwise usually applies to work visa applications, was 'ILL-SUITED to deal with applications for entry by members of a travelling performing group to perform in Hong Kong for a short duration only'[3].

In other words, in respect of applications by members of such a group, the questions whether they 'possess special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong', or whether the job or tasks they propose to perform can be 'readily taken up by the local work force', are matters irrelevant to the Director's inquiry [4], for otherwise the happy wealth of local talent could ironically have the absurd effect of preventing the possibility of any international cultural events in the first place[5].

By contrast, in determining whether to allow such an application for a work visa, what the Director must take into account, and give substantial weight to, are the following factors[6]:

1) the unmistakable value of international cultural and artistic exchanges and activities to (the) society (of Hong Kong);

2) members of such a travelling performing group do not seek to remain in Hong Kong permanently, and therefore are unlikely to significantly (if at all) jeopardise the job opportunities of local workers; rather they are seeking entry for the specific purpose of attending international cultural and artistic exchanges and activities, for a short period of time after which they are expected to leave the city;

3) in particular, the Direct must consider the visa applications bearing in mind that a performing group is an inalienable entity, each member being integral to the group; discrimination against individual members is liable to be found unreasonable (and chances are that travelling performing groups of any reputation would not be prepared to accept invitations unreasonably extended only to certain of their members but not the others[7])。

The reason for refusing the visa application, as stated in the Director's letter, is that the applicant did not meet the very irrelevant criteria which, as shown, have been judicially deprecated insofar as they were applied to a travelling performing group, in circumstances indistinguishable from those in the instant case. On the other hand, the Director never gave any consideration at all to the relevant factors (all pointing to a favourable determination of the application) which he, in law, must consider. It follows that, even stripped of its political overtones, the Director's decision is one that is ultra vires and illegal according to the ordinary principles of administrative law.

[1] See eg the written reply by the Secretary for Security in the Legislative Council on 24 October 2018 to the Hon Kenneth Leung: https://www.info.gov.hk/…/gen…/201810/24/P2018102400458.htm…
[2] And the Director of Immigration conceded as much at the time, that it had never been his practice to rigidly apply the Policy to travelling performing groups of this sort: see para 45.
[3] At para 42 (emphasis added).
[4] At paras 43-44、50、52、60、62、68.
[5] See para 57.
[6] See paras 49-50、57、62、64.
[7] See para 54.

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