Hong Kong/France Working Holiday Scheme quota to increase

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The reciprocal annual quota under the Hong Kong/France Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) will be increased from 400 to 500 with effect from January 1, 2016, in view of the positive response to the scheme.

This is the second increase of the annual quota since the establishment of the Hong Kong/France WHS in July 2013. The annual quota of the WHS for 2015 was increased on a one-off basis from 200 to 400 in May. To enable more youths from both economies to live and work temporarily in the other side while holidaymaking, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has agreed with the French Government to further expand the annual quota to 500 from 2016 onwards.

Welcoming the expansion of the quota, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said, "We are encouraged to see that the WHS has been well received by youths, especially the enthusiastic response from the French applicants. The expansion will provide more opportunities for youths from both sides to enrich their global exposure and broaden their horizons through the scheme."

Under the Hong Kong/France WHS, Hong Kong youth aged 18 to 30 who holds a valid HKSAR passport or a British National (Overseas) passport and has not benefited from this Scheme before may apply for a visa. Successful applicants may stay in France for up to 12 months, during which they can take up short-term employment of not more than six months with the same employer, and/or enrol in short-term courses of up to six months.

Hong Kong applicants can visit the website of the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau for further details regarding visa applications. French applicants may refer to the Hong Kong Immigration Department's website at www.immd.gov.hk.

Since 2001, the HKSAR Government has established bilateral WHS arrangements with 10 economies. In addition to France our partners also include New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Canada, Korea, the United Kingdom and Austria. So far, more than 65 000 Hong Kong youths have joined the aforementioned WHSs.

Hong Kong youths are welcome to join the WHSs. In the meantime, the HKSAR Government also reminds the working holidaymakers to get well prepared before departure and raise their safety awareness when abroad. They should take out appropriate insurance policies, observe local laws and be cautious in dealing with the terms and conditions laid down in employment contracts in the working holiday destinations for safety consideration. In case of accidents or serious incidents during their stay in our partner economies, WHS participants should immediately approach the local government authorities for assistance. They may also approach the local Chinese Embassy or Consulate, or call the 24-hour hotline of the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit of the Immigration Department on (852) 1868.

Ends/Tuesday, December 29, 2015