Legislative Assembly approves first draft of new residence scheme to attract non-resident qualified professionals

The Legislative Assembly (AL) today (Thursday) approved a draft bill for a new legal framework aimed at attracting qualified professionals to relocate to the city and help diversify the local economy.

Presenting the bill at the plenary, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U expressed to legislators that the legislation was essential to diversify the local economic structure and improve the qualifications of local human resources.

“Macau needs to train more qualified local staff and also to attract qualified staff from abroad who are in short supply and are needed by the industrial sectors that promote socio-economic development. With enough qualified staff of excellence, Macau will be able to better support the rapid conversion of local industries and improve the current limiting situation oriented towards a predominant industrial structure,” Secretary Ao stated.

In an initial phase the new system three-year residence permit for highly qualified professionals over 21 years of age, deemed to be qualified to develop four priority areas, namely, Big Health, modern finance, high-end technology, and culture and sport.

If approved the new system will replace the previous regime for establishing the residence of investors and qualified staff in force since 2005, with professionals who established themselves via the previous system under the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) to continue to see their residence status renewed under the previous system requirements.

The new system will provide a renewable three-year residence permit to individuals divided under a proposed three-tier system, namely: highly qualified professionals, professionals of excellence and highly specialized professionals.

Spouses and children under 18 of successful applicants could also benefit from the special residence permit granted.

In the second half of 2021, local authorities carried out a public consultation on the scheme lasting 45 days, with a final report published on May 5, 2022.

According to Secretary Ao, local society demonstrated a general agreement with the proposal and, consequently, support for the elaboration of the regime for attracting qualified personnel.

“Meanwhile, the Macau SAR Government discussed with the competent authorities of Mainland China the arrival of some of its qualified staff to Macau, having obtained their support. Based on the various preparatory works, the Government drafted the draft law entitled Legal regime for attracting qualified staff,” she added.

For the purposes of appraisal and approval, the Commission for the Development of Qualified Staff is responsible for reviewing the applications and assessing the candidates’ professional knowledge and qualifications.

Within the scope of the Public Security Police Corps, it is necessary to verify whether or not candidates are prohibited from entering the MSAR or prevented from applying for a residence permit.

The draft law also proposes tax benefits for qualified staff, either for individuals or legal entities.

Qualified staff may enjoy exemption from payment of stamp duty on the transfer of assets and, also, from urban property tax, for the acquisition of immovable property intended for the exercise of their own activity, as well as exemption from payment of supplementary income tax, while qualified staff hired by local employers may benefit from professional tax benefits.