The government Tuesday launched a one-month public consultation on the drafting of a new immigration, stay and residency bill with the aim of enabling more effective law enforcement for when immigration officers carry out their work and with the aim of tackling the various irregularities resulting from illegal immigration.
The government says that the new law will clearly regulate the collection of non-locals’ biometric data at immigration counters, with the aim of combating illegal immigration and overstaying more effectively.
The bill also proposes several new crime categories, such as marriage of convenience.
A press conference about the public consultation was held at the Sao Francisco Barracks. The consultation will end on June 6. Three public sessions will be held during the consultation period.
Addressing the press conference, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak noted that the city’s immigration, stay and residency system is currently regulated by two laws enacted in 2003 and 2004 respectively along with two by-laws (administrative regulations) promulgated in 2003.
The 2003 law specifies the general principles and rules for immigration and non-locals’ stay and residency matters. The 2004 law lists the rules concerning illegal immigration, overstaying and deportation. The two by-laws specify detailed rules for the enforcement of the 2003 immigration law.
Wong said that the two laws and relevant by-laws have been in force for over 10 years and that many rules in the laws and by-laws are nowadays unable to tackle the resultant irregularities along with the constant social development over the past decade or so. He said that therefore many of the rules needed to be amended.
According to Wong, the government proposes that the new immigration, stay and residency law replace the two existing immigration and residency-related laws and the two by-laws.
According to the public consultation document, immigration officers frequently face the situation of non-locals trying to enter Macau illegally using fake identification documents or other people’s identification documents.
The immigration Department is run by the Public Security Police (PSP).
According to the Macau Post Daily the document says that in order to combat illegal immigration and to prevent the occurrence of related crimes more effectively, particularly dangerous crimes such as terrorism and organised crime activities, it was necessary for the new law to regulate the use and collection of biometric data of non-locals for immigration purposes.
The document notes that currently local residents do not face any penalty or fine if they enter or leave Macau without going through the city’s border checkpoints. According to the document, the bill proposes that local residents’ not following proper exit and entry rules will face a fine.
According to Wong, the bill proposes that all the city’s hotels will be required to provide the Immigration Department with the check-in and check-out information of their non-local guests within 24 hours, except non-resident workers (NRWs) and those holding special stay permit
The local government grants special stay permits to central government officials posted to Macau, as well as employees working for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) working here.
The bill also proposes that any operators of Macau-bound airplanes have to submit data on their crew members and passengers to the Immigration Department, according to the document.
In addition, the government also proposes a new category of crime for marriages of convenience. Fake marriage defendants will face prison terms of two to eight years, according to the bill.
Wong also said that NRWs’ local-born children must obtain a travel document within 90 days after their birth as otherwise their residency permit would be cancelled. Without registration of their travel document, the children would not be permitted to remain in Macau.
Wong also said that the 60-day maximum detention period for illegal immigrants (II`s) should be scrapped. Wong pointed out that in some cases it was impossible to confirm the identity of IIs within the 60-day period.
The immigration, stay and residency bill must be passed by the legislature to become law.