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Legal commentary on my letter to immigration about space aliens

August 31, 2017

It turned out that my letter to Immigration Department about why I want to stay in Hong Kong was legally useless, but let me explain the back story.

OKAY…..  If this section gets too boring, then you can skip to the section marked SKIP HERE….

OK, after three years in which every June was bureaucratic hell for me, I finally figured that I was going to get permanent residency.  But what happened was that three days before my PR was effective I went to Shenzhen to attend a conference on neutrino physics.  I reentered Hong Kong on a visitors visa. At that point, this caused a problem because the 25th floor of Immigration cannot process a PR application while you are on a visitors visa.  My wife and kids application went through.  But I had to get a visa extension so that I wouldn’t be a visitor.  At this point I had a problem, because I was under business review, which meant I had to submit a ton of documents.  I wrote a letter to the 5th floor of immigration explaining my situation, and asking if they could give me a short term visa, so that the 25th floor could process my PR application.

A day letter I got back a form letter requesting the same documents that they originally requested for business review.  So that was a “no” answer.  The thing about Immigration Department is that all of the letters I’ve gotten from them are form letters.  One thing clever about immigration is that by sending back the same form letter they said no without saying no.  It is really important that they didn’t say no, because if they actually “denied” my request, then it would cause both me and them headaches.

So at that point I wrote back a letter which including two applications 1) was a new application for a visa extension based on my wife who had now gotten PR, the 2) was the docs that immigration requests which consisted of 30 pages of accounting stuff.  The reason I submitted two applications is that I didn’t want to get into a situation in which one application had lapsed.


The Hong Kong Immigration Department are human robots.  Every time I deal with them I get the image of “Terminator” robots but instead of trying to kill you, they are just trying to enforce the immigration laws and policies of Hong Kong, and they are very good at it.  But they are just robots with a certain amount of programming, you had them inputs, they hand you outputs.  Also being an immigration officer is a tough job, and you have to be a robot.  There are people with shocking and heart rending stories that want to get into HK, but your job as an Immigration Officer is to say *NO* and to enforce policy.

Now the robot who processed my application figured that it would be fastest to just ignore my business visa application, and go for a dependency visa.  In which case the entire letter about galactic colonization was irrelevant.  Now the only way the letter would have made a difference was if they couldn’t process my application as my wife’s dependent, had to process my business application, in which case, I would have desperately hoped that they would has for fewer documents.

If this is all boring you, you’ll understand why I wrote the letter.  After spending several months of bureaucratic hell each year.  You start wondering why you are here.  Why is it that I’m trying so hard to stay in Hong Kong?  Would it have been better if I just worked at a bank and did a salary?  Maybe is was a mistake to go to the conference on neutrinos?

And the scary part is that I almost didn’t make it.  Neil Armstrong landed on the moon with only 35 seconds of fuel.  Until recently, I’ve been burning cash.  I don’t know if I would have been able to stay in Hong Kong, I had to go another year.

So why even try?

The letter was the last section of a 30 page visa application with mind numbing numbers and pain and agony.  So I had to write the letter, not to immigration but to myself.  I had to remind myself of exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it, because if I just get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of paperwork, I’ll give up.

So I needed to convince myself not to give up….


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