In a major setback for Indians travelling to Hong Kong, Hong Kong has taken the surprise step of withdrawing the visa free travel arrangements between the two countries. From now on Indians will have to complete a pre-arrival registration before travelling to Hong Kong.
“The Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals will be implemented on January 23rd. The online service for pre-arrival registration for Indian Nationals is now open.” Said the Hong Kong immigrations department recently. Pre-registration is still not required for transit passengers who are not planning to leave the airport transfer zone. All other passengers will be required to complete the online pre-registration forms before travelling.
Statistics show that over half a million passengers a year travel from India to Hong Kong on both business and tourism and until now visitors had been allowed to travel visa free for a period of up to 14 days. This has now been revoked on the grounds that the number of Indian asylum seekers was rapidly increasing. There have been no statistics to back this claim and Indian officials deny that there has been any such increase.
Opponents to the reversal of the arrangements have suggested that pressure from China on Hong Kong could have led to the change in policy but this has yet to be confirmed by any official sources and there has been no announcement on whether the move is a permanent measure. All that is known is that for now Indian travellers to Hong Kong will need to check their travel requirements before travel.
Indians proposing to visit Hong Kong on either business or pleasure are advised now to complete the pre-registration forms online before travelling as they will not be allowed to travel from Indian without the registration process being complete.
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