Pedro Cortés Calvin Tinlop Chui September 21 2022 New residence scheme to attract non-resident qualified professionals Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés Advogados | Employment & Immigration - Macau Pedro Cortés, Calvin Tinlop Chui Employment & Immigration IntroductionDefinitionQualification requirementsCompetent authoritiesResidency permitTax benefitsCommentIntroductionOn 11 August 2022, the legislature approved a draft bill for a new legal framework to attract non-resident qualified talents. The bill reviews the previous policy of major investment immigration and technical immigration, along with its corresponding legal framework – namely, the Temporary Residency Regime for Investors, Management Personnel, and Specialised Technicians.The previous regime was in force for over a decade, and, in fact, the current socioeconomic situation of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) is entirely different from when it was first enacted. For this reason, there is a demand to review and refine the residency scheme for the purpose of attracting more professionals and promoting the economic diversification of the MSAR.Definition The draft bill focuses on three main categories of professionals:highly qualified talents, defined as individuals with exceptional competencies or technical ability who are also internationally recognised for outstanding achievements or significant contributions in specific areas;talents of excellence, namely those who can facilitate the appropriate economic diversification of the MSAR in accordance with the region's socioeconomic development needs, especially those who have professional experience and technical ability and are recognised for their expertise or in their industry; andhighly specialised talents, which targets individuals with professional experience and technical competence who, in line with the socioeconomic development of the MSAR, are able to support the development of the prioritised industries or fill the shortage of the human resources needed for the development of the MSAR.Qualification requirementsThe scheme is divided into three programmes, corresponding to each of the above categories. The qualification requirements for each are as follows:Candidates applying to the highly qualified talents programme must have obtained an achievement or title that is internationally recognised– for instance, a Nobel Prize or an Olympic medal.Candidates applying to the talents of excellence programme or highly specialised talents programme must:be equipped with the professional knowledge, qualification or experience defined in the applicable programme;be at least 21 years old;have excellent written and spoken communication skills in Chinese, Portuguese or English; andfulfil the basic requirements established by the applicable assessment criteria.Candidates applying to the highly specialised professionals' programme must also have a job or job offer with a local employer for a professional role that is defined as in short supply by the applicable programme and that reaches a certain wage level.Competent authoritiesThe competent authorities for the execution and implementation of this scheme are:the Evaluation Committee for Attracting Qualified Talents (ECAQT), which was newly established by the draft bill;the Talents Development Committee (TDC); andthe Public Security Police Corps (PSPC).ECAQTThe ECAQT's responsibilities include:assisting in the elaboration of talent-attracting policies and programmes;coordinating the implementation of such policies and programmes; andassessing the opinion of the TDC on the review of applications for the diversified talent-attracting programmes.TDCThe TDC is responsible for implementing the measures under the Legal Regime for Attracting Qualified Staff – namely, to review applications and assess applicants' professional knowledge and qualifications.PSPCThe PSPC carries out identity verification to authenticate whether applicants may enter the MSAR and apply for residence permits.Residency permitThe chief executive has the discretionary power to authorise or decline residency permits under the scheme.Talents under the three proposed programmes will receive a renewable three-year residence permit. Meanwhile, their families will also benefit from a residence permit if the draft bill is approved.The draft bill also stipulates special rules for the renewal and maintenance of residency permits granted to candidates applying to the talents of excellence programme or the highly qualified talents programme and their family members – that is, habitual residence in MSAR is not a condition for these purposes.Nevertheless, during the validity of the residency permit, all applicants under the scheme must continuously fulfil the requirements on which the decision to grant the residence permit is founded. Applicants can become permanent residents of the MSAR when they habitually reside in Macau for seven years.Tax benefitsIn order to attract more talent to the MSAR, the draft bill also establishes a set of tax benefits. Individuals or undertakings in which they hold more than 50% of the capital may be entitled to tax exemptions if they fulfil specific requirements set out in the bill.The tax benefit includes:stamp duty on property transfers;urban property tax; andsupplementary income tax.CommentIt is crucial to attract more high-quality talent to enhance the economic diversification of the MSAR – in particular, talents who have knowledge and experience in key industries. These include healthcare, modern finance, high-end technology, and culture and sport.While the MSAR is embracing a series of opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and the Guangdong-Macau In-Depth Cooperation Zone, the region is facing severe demographic problems, such as an aging population, a low birth rate and the local "brain drain". Through this scheme, aiming to attract more qualified and experienced talent, it is hoped that the local market will become more dynamic.When considering the sustainable development of the MSAR's economy, the neighbouring regions of Hong Kong Administrative Region and Singapore should be considered as a reference to improve the MSAR's policies and strategies – in these areas, talent recruitment policies have been well implemented for years.For further information on this topic please contact Pedro Cortés or Calvin Tinlop Chui at Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés Advogados by telephone (+853 2856 2322) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés Advogados website can be accessed at www.lektou.com.Endnotes(1) Administrative Regulation No. 3/2005.