Hong Kong withdraws visa-free entry to Indians

Hong Kong has withdrawn the visa-free entry facility for Indians and they will now have to complete a pre-arrival registration from January. There is also some good news in store — Thailand has halved the visa on arrival fees for Indian tourists. This decision was taken on the ground to prevent illegal immigration as number of Indian asylum seekers was on the rise.The pre-arrival registration for Indian nationals will be implemented from 23 January, 2017. The online service for it is now open, the Hong Kong immigration department said in an announcement on its official website. This is a major set back for over half a million Indians who visit Hong Kong for business, trade and holidays. Under the new rules, Indian travellers will have to complete a pre-arrival registration. Such pre-registration would not be necessary for those transiting through the Hong Kong airport without leaving the airport transit area. Hong Kong’s unilateral decision came a year after its government had sent a delegation headed by the Assistant Director of Immigration from the Immigration Department and Hong Kong Police in December 2015 to India. It had informed concerns about “illegal employment” and “human trafficking” involving Indians in Hong Kong to India’s External Affairs Ministry. They even had expressed concern that many Indians taking up jobs even though Hong Kong does not allow visitors to work. Hong Kong does not allow visitors to take up jobs, but the officials had expressed concern that many Indians were doing so.

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