Hong Kong Government Scheme Facilitates Entry into Hong Kong for Arbitration Participants
On 29 June 2020, the Hong Kong government launched a scheme to facilitate the short-term entry into Hong Kong of eligible persons participating in arbitral proceedings (“Scheme”). Eligible persons are non-Hong Kong residents who are nationals from visitor visa-free jurisdictions and are entering Hong Kong to participate in arbitral proceedings as arbitrators, expert or fact witnesses, counsel or parties. Participation in arbitral proceedings includes attendance at hearings, meeting with clients to prepare for a hearing, and meetings with expert and/or factual witnesses.
Eligible Persons may participate in arbitral proceedings in Hong Kong as visitors for a term not exceeding the relevant visa-free period for visitors of their nationality.
HKIAC is a qualified institution under the Scheme. Upon request, HKIAC will issue Letters of Proof to relevant individuals that can be presented at immigration points upon arrival, if required, in Hong Kong. HKIAC may issue Letters of Proof in arbitrations administered by HKIAC and in ad hoc arbitrations not administered by HKIAC but where the hearing will be held at HKIAC’s premises. HKIAC charges no fees for issuing Letters of Proof. The Scheme is not applicable to residents of Mainland China, Macao and Taiwan or persons who require a visa/entry permit to visit Hong Kong. For further information on HKIAC’s services under the Scheme (and for those not covered by the Scheme), please visit here.
Eligible Persons will still be subject to usual immigration laws and policies of Hong Kong, including, for example, that the individual holds a valid travel document with adequate returnability to his/her country of residence or citizenship. Persons who intend to enter Hong Kong to engage in activities falling outside the scope of the Scheme are obliged to obtain the necessary visa/entry permit for the activity.
In light of COVID-19, until further notice, all non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong, and non-Hong Kong residents coming from Mainland China, Macao and Taiwan will be denied entry into Hong Kong if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days. Persons covered by the Scheme are also subject to these entry restrictions for the time being.
The Hong Kong government will review the Scheme in two years’ time and, subject to review, may extend it to individuals from other jurisdictions.