By Moustafa Daly
The investment threshold for the program is set to triple to HK$ 30 million ($3,836,106), making it the world’s second most expensive RBI scheme after Singapore.
When reintroducing the scheme, which he first announced in February 2023, Lee explained it was to “strengthen the development of our asset and wealth management business, financial services and related professional services.”
The scheme, first introduced in 2003 and suspended in 2015, was very successful, attracting over $27 billion in foreign investments to the city in its 12-year run.
In 2015, the program was suspended, with the government citing a hike in property prices. Then-Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that Hong Kong didn’t need capital investment but talent.
The real estate option would be scrapped in the revived scheme, so foreign home buyers won’t be eligible for the investment residency program. However, Lee announced that stamp duties collected from non-resident property buyers will be cut in half, incentivizing foreign investment in local real estate.
The same tax reduction would apply to local homeowners looking to buy additional properties.
Lee said the final details of the revamped scheme will be announced by the end of 2023.
Attracting talent is important to Hong Kong
The population of Hong Kong has been in decline since 2020 due to many political and social changes. Official statistics show a shrinking workforce that officials fear could impede economic development, with 2022 witnessing one of the highest drops in population figures in years.
One way Hong Kong aims to shore up this gap is by expanding its Top Talent Pass scheme, which Lee also announced in his policy address.
The scheme allows students at reputable universities to move to Hong Kong and seek employment there. Among the measures, the scheme will now include graduates of 184 global institutions, with eight new Mainland China institutions set to be added to the list of eligible institutions.
Also, non-Hong Kong students who obtain higher diplomas recognized by the Vocational Training Council will be allowed a one-year job-seeking visa.
The program would come into effect starting November 2023, according to local media reports.
Moreover, Lee announced an immediate relaxing of general visa requirements for Vietnamese, Laotian, and Nepalese citizens.
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