India critical of new visa regulations issue with Hong Kong - September 11, 2017

India critical of new visa regulations issue with Hong Kong

India has made a strong criticism of the visa and immigration policies of Hong Kong and said that it must facilitate exchanges among people and not create extra hurdles.

The External Affairs Ministry took up this stand with Hong Kong authorities, regarding the additional security measures and layers as required, where pre-arrival registration, was made mandatory for giving visas to travelers from India. This was not made known to many of them.

Hong Kong has been attracting tourists and businessmen in large numbers from India. 4 lakh people traveled to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region during the year 2016.

In the recent past, there was a stipulation under the rules of HKSAR that Indian nationals, who wish to stay in Hong Kong for a period more than 14 days, had to obtain the visa. Indians who visited Hong Kong for a period less than 14 days, for tourism or similar purposes, were given free visa-on-arrival.

The New set of rules were put into force on January 23rd, 2017 when Hong Kong introduced an additional layer of scrutiny for Indian nationals who wished to benefit from the visa-free entry for a period below 14 days. This called for mandatory registration before arrival. Indians who wish to enter Hong Kong had to complete an On-Line Pre-Arrival Registration and obtain visa-on-arrival. Others are required to obtain prior visas, before their arrival in Hong Kong.

Indians having a passport with minimum validity of six months are in a position to pre-register online. This registration has six-month validity. There are exemptions for valid passport holders who are on the diplomatic/official mission, and also for the persons who are frequent visitors.

India has impressed upon the visa and immigration authorities and conveyed strongly to Hong Kong that owing to increased business ties, people to people contact was important and that they must come forward to help the exchanges and remove all hurdles.

An official explained that on the contrary, India had a liberalized visa system for the citizens of HKSAR, and there was an online visa process in place. The additional hurdle was a source of trouble to some Indian travelers he added.

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