Hong Kong speeds up visas for Japan expats
Hong Kong (AFP) April 4, 2011
Hong Kong is speeding up approval of work visas for professionals fleeing quake-hit Japan, immigration officials said Monday, as the city tries to snap up top-class staff in the finance sector.
Hong Kong's Immigration Department said 270 one-year visas from people leaving Japan were approved through an expedited system that took only two days, compared with the usual four to six weeks.
The applications were received between March 17 and 31 from high-level managers and professionals at multinational companies in the finance industry earning between HK$100,000 ($13,000) and HK$200,000 a month, a spokesman said.
"Countries all around the world are fighting over talent exiting Japan because of the earthquake," the department's information officer Angus Leung told AFP.
"We hope that they will consider Hong Kong," he said, adding that the government had received 600 enquiries from high-end financial workers in Japan since the disaster.
Japan is struggling to recover from the March 11 quake and tsunami, which battered the northeast coast and crippled a nuclear power plant 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Tokyo, causing radiation leakages and fears of contamination.
The Hong Kong International School and Hong Kong Japanese School told AFP they had received an increase in enquiries and applications from parents looking for child places.
They could not immediately provide an exact figure.
However, some banks said they will keep their staff in Japan.
A spokesman from Citigroup's Hong Kong office told AFP the company was not facilitating any permanent moves and that all of its Tokyo-based employees will remain in the city.
Luxury hotels in Hong Kong -- the JW Marriott, Four Seasons and Shangri-La -- have seen a jump in room requests from firms moving staff, and individuals fleeing the stricken country.
The central Bank of Japan said Monday that businesses' confidence in the outlook for the next three months had plunged following the March 11 disaster and subsequent nuclear crisis.
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