Hong Kong has revised the entry requirements for Indian visitors and announced that that they will now be required to “successfully complete online pre-arrival registration” before visiting Hong Kong visa-free. The regulations come into force in January 2017. The change announced by the government is in response to the large number of asylum seekers from India. At present it is possible for India citizens to visit Hong Kong visa free for visits of 14 days or less. However, under the new rules, which take effect on 23rd January 2017 Indian nationals will have to complete an online registration before arrival to take advantage of the visa free travel arrangements. The rules have been bought into force following a large rise in the number of asylum seekers entering the country under the visa free arrangements. It is hoped that these new arrangements will slow the asylum seekers and allow for visa free travel to be continued into the future. The pre registration is not required if the entry is for transit persons only as long as the traveller is not leaving the airport. Those exempt to the new regulations are those travelling on diplomatic passports, those that have an official Hong Kong Pass and those that who have enrolled on the e-Channel service for frequent visitors to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong officials have reported that the new regulations are essential to prevent the rise in asylum seekers stating that asylum seekers from south east Asian have rocketed to over ten thousand with over 20% of those travelling from India. Around half of these entered the country illegally into Hong Kong whilst the other half entered as visitors before registering their asylum seeker intent. Whilst some oppose the plans it is seen by many as a necessary step to continue to allow visa free travel for Indians and to avoid any further restrictions being imposed in the future.
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