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Visa scheme brings talent home

November 01, 2015

French connection

French connection:  Flora Lo’s parents emigrated to France and she now uses her language skills and professional qualifications working for a local interior design firm.

Cultural fusion

Cultural fusion:  Ms Lo quickly adapted to her new life in Hong Kong and has taken up hiking to explore her new home.

Career destination

Career destination:  Malaysian-born Missy Tan was one of the scheme’s first applicants and was hired by an electronics company soon after receiving her visa.

Working relations

Working relations:  Ms Tan’s mother Asa Hung is grateful the scheme has advanced her daughter’s career and brought them back together.

Family affair

Family affair:  With their ties to Hong Kong and knowledge of foreign languages and culture, second generation Hong Kongers make a valuable contribution to the local workforce.

Interior designer Flora Lo arrived here from France three months ago under a new Government scheme to attract more second-generation Hong Kongers to return to their parents' homeland and contribute to the workforce. 


Her Hong Kong-born mother and Vietnamese father emigrated to France where she was born and raised, but they regularly took Ms Lo for holidays in Hong Kong.


"It was always like a dream when I came to Hong Kong, and when I was younger I always wanted to come to Hong Kong to work and maybe experience the life here," she said.


French connection

Ms Lo is one of 80 successful applicants to the Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents, launched in May this year.


She applied for the visa online from France and about three weeks later received the Immigration Department's green light to come live and work in Hong Kong.


"I have some friends from France and they want to apply for a job here, but it's very difficult because they don't have the working visa, so for me, because of my mum - she's a Hong Kongese - it's easier."


Ms Lo arrived here with Masters degrees in interior design and architecture, as well as three years’ experience working in France.


Fluent in French, English and Cantonese, the 31-year-old is already playing a key role in a Sheung Wan interior design company by helping to translate ideas from her French colleagues into Cantonese for the local contractors.


"I think that there are many opportunities here and many good challenging projects and very interesting people here, that's why I chose Hong Kong."


Ms Lo has settled in Sheung Wan and has integrated into the local community quickly. She has taken up hiking and says she is pleasantly surprised by the contrast between Hong Kong's cityscape and beautiful countryside.


"I like to hike in Hong Kong because it's convenient, you can come by bus or by taxi, it's very near and very practical to come here. I went to Victoria Peak where you can see all the high buildings and lights - it's Hong Kong, you have the two parts: the city and nature, so it's very interesting."


The new visa scheme allows the children of Hong Kong migrants settled abroad at the time of their birth to return and stay in Hong Kong for a year without a sponsor. During that year, the visa-holder can find a job or set up a business here. After that, a two to three-year extension will be granted, if the visa-holder is working or running a business.


Reconnecting with roots

Malaysian-born Missy Tan was one of the first visa applicants. Her father is Malaysian, but she qualified because her mother is from Hong Kong. It was her relatives here that encouraged her to apply for the new scheme and within a month, she was able to come to Hong Kong.


"They fully supported me because my sister is married in Malaysia, I'm alone over there and my mum is working alone over here, so my relatives in Hong Kong encouraged me to come back and accompany my mum."


Her mother, Asa Hung, is grateful that her daughter can reconnect with her roots as well as keep her company.


"I am very happy my daughter has come back to Hong Kong to stay with me and that we can spend more time with each other," she said.


Ms Tan graduated from New South Wales University in Australia and can speak Cantonese, English and Japanese. The 27-year-old was hired soon after she received her visa and works in an electronics firm's marketing department. Like Ms Lo, she settled in quickly and is enjoying her new life here.


"In Hong Kong I feel energetic and my life is content because I can have a work-life balance in Hong Kong and I think it has a nice culture and the people are helpful," Ms Tan explained.


Talented descendants

The scheme targets financially self-sufficient Chinese nationals born abroad, aged 18 to 40. They should have at least one parent who is a permanent Hong Kong resident at the time of application and was a Chinese national who had settled overseas at the time of the applicant's birth.


They must also have a good educational background and be proficient in written and spoken Cantonese, Putonghua or English.


As at the end of September, the Immigration Department had received 142 visa applications and approved 80 under the scheme. Most of the applicants are second generation Chinese in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands.