I'll begin with a short overview of what this office does.
Hong Kong is a full-processing mission responsible for the delivery of the immigration program in Hong Kong and Macau, and we share responsibility with Beijing for the immigration program in China. Family class applicants from the four southern provinces of China are processed here in Hong Kong, in part because of Hong Kong's Cantonese language capacity. All other immigration applicants in China have the option of applying either in Beijing or here in Hong Kong. Since the opening of the visa application centres in China in July 2008, People's Republic of China residents rarely apply here for temporary resident visas. There remains, however, a large Hong Kong-based temporary worker and student movement out of the office in Hong Kong.
The immigration section in Hong Kong consists of 10 Canada-based officers and 62 locally engaged staff, including seven designated immigration officers. Two of the CBO positions are migration integrity officers filling CBSA positions here. Hong Kong works with the regional medical officer and the FCO based in Beijing and the RCMP liaison officer here in Hong Kong. The highest production office of the Service de l'immigration du Québec is also located here in Hong Kong in the same office tower, just below us. That office has regional responsibility for all of Asia.
The Hong Kong visa office issued just over 16,000 immigrant visas in 2010, and we expect to issue a similar number in 2011. Almost all visas issued by this office are to people resident in mainland China, with over 80% being in the economic categories. Output, however, continues to be lower than intake. As a result, the inventory of cases in Hong Kong has grown from about 22,000 early in 2008 to over 34,000 today. That represents about 95,000 people. The largest component of our inventory is federal investor applications, of which we have about 16,000 cases and over 50,000 people. The next largest part of our backlog is pre-Bill C-50 skilled worker files; we have over 10,000, or about 24,000 people, with the oldest cases dating back to 2006. We issued about 1,500 visas to Bill C-50 skilled workers in 2010.
Hong Kong has a large temporary worker population originating from many source countries in the region, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, and China. The majority work in the domestic sector and in construction. Though Hong Kong relies heavily on foreign workers, it remains difficult to obtain permanent resident status here, including for people from the People's Republic of China. As a consequence, accepting a temporary work contract here in Hong Kong is seen by some, particularly domestic workers, as a stepping stone for a subsequent move to Canada. Hong Kong processed over 3,600 temporary work permit applications in 2010, mostly to LCP applicants, and our refusal rate was about 12%. The number of applications for temporary work permits received in 2010 was comparable to that of the previous year. Fifty per cent of temporary work permit cases were processed in about two months.
Counteracting fraudulent activity is a major preoccupation here in Hong Kong and is addressed by way of a multi-faceted anti-fraud and quality assurance strategy. An experienced case analysis unit that is skilled in document verification works closely with an anti-fraud unit that is part of our migration integrity unit. Site visits are also carried out on a regular but exceptional basis by the migration integrity officers stationed in Guangzhou and Shanghai.
A major focus of our anti-fraud activities has been spousal applications; in this area, marriages of convenience have been found to be endemic. The family class priority processing timeframes incorporate the assumption that 80% of such cases are non-problematic; in Hong Kong, the reverse is true. We have serious fraud concerns for 60% of our spousal movement and have some concerns for another 20%.
Although in most countries FC1 interviews can be waived, that is not the case in Hong Kong. About half of our spousal applicants are interviewed in order to give them an opportunity to address our concerns in person. Of those seen at interview in 2010, 70% were refused because of confirmed or highly suspected marriage fraud. The information and evidence collected suggest strongly that the movement is organized and very lucrative for the organizers. Our high refusal rate has resulted in a decrease in new applications received in that category in the past two years, as those intent on abusing our system are now less likely to apply. As a consequence, our refusal rate has started to go down; it down from 57% in 2009 to 47% in 2010. Constant vigilance, however, is required to curb abuse.
Priority processing has been maintained for genuine spousal cases. We have instituted measures such as tracking case processing at the front end stages, doing upfront background checks, increasing our interview schedule, and requesting the passport early on in the process to meet the new service standards, but we're not there yet. The extra time required to investigate many of our most problematic cases adds to our average processing times, but with the ratio of illegitimate cases decreasing, we are focusing on bringing down overall processing times in the next months.
The changes to the federal immigrant investor program that took effect on December 1, 2010, served to moderate the intake of new applications. At the time of the moratorium on investor applications in June 2010, we had already received about 9,000 such applications that year. Following the reopening of the program in December and the doubling of the personal net worth and investment requirements, the number of new applications received dropped to a more manageable 300 per month. Active recruiting for business immigrants by consultants continues to take place in the PRC, and we do not discount the possibility of renewed growth in our intake. The visa office in Hong Kong processed about half of Canada's 2010 global target of federal investor cases and will do so again in 2011.
New applications, however, still outnumber finalized ones. As a result, a backlog of new federal investor files is already being created, while there is little reduction in the inventory of old files. We are currently processing applications received in mid-2008 in that category. The majority of Quebec and provincial nominee cases processed in Hong Kong are also in the investor categories.
I'll stop there, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, and I'll be happy to answer any questions the committee may have.