Asylum seekers from India has become a big issue.
The visa-free facility enjoyed by Indian travelers who visited Hong Kong has been scrapped. Starting from January, all Indians visiting Hong Kong will have to complete a pre-arrival registration.
The Hong Kong Immigration department through its website announced that “the pre-arrival registration for Indian Nationals will be implemented on January 23, 2017.” The statement also says that the ‘Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals is currently opened.
“Indian nationals must apply for and successfully complete pre-arrival registration online before they can visit or transit the HKSAR visa-free (if seeking to enter the HKSAR during transit). Pre-arrival registration is not required for Indian nationals in direct transit by air and not leaving the airport transit area,” it said.
According to reports, the scrapping of visa-free entry will affect over half a million Indians who travel to Hong Kong every year for business, holiday and trade purpose.
Until this year, Hong Kong which is a special administrative area under China has allowed Indians to enter the territory with a valid passport and was giving a maximum of 14 days to get their visas.
According to a PTI report, the increasing number of asylum seekers from India has been a growing concern for Hong Kong.
Indian officials say that Hong Kong is using the asylum seekers issue to deny visa-free entry to Indians who are one of the largest spenders contributing to the local economy.
There is a growing concern that the swift move of Hong Kong is due to the growing pressure from China, the PTI report said.
The Assistant Director of Hong Kong’s Immigration Department, Ma Chi-ming, was quoted by South China Morning Post saying that Indian visitors should not enter fake data to get economic asylum as they will have to face many serious legal consequences.
Ma, in-charge of visas and policies, said the measure would be reviewed soon after its launch and considered a pilot scheme.
“We picked India as a testing point as it was one of the major source countries,” he said. “We do not rule out extending the scheme to other countries in the future.”
According to him, out of the total of 10,335 refugee applicants, 80% of them belonged to countries such as India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia. None of the other countries, other than India, got visa-free entry.