In a huge setback to Indian travelers, Hongkong has withdrawn the visa-free facility for Indians who will have to complete a pre-arrival registration from Monday.
“The Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals will be implemented on January 23. The online service for Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals is now open,” the Hong Kong immigration department said in an announcement on its official website.
“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.
A Pre-Arrival Registration is normally valid for a six- month period or until the expiry date of the Indian passport linked to it, whichever is earlier, it said. This is a major set back for over half a million Indians who visit the former British colony for business, trade and holidays.
Till now Hong Kong has permitted Indians to enter with valid passport for a period up to 14 days without a visa. But the facility has been withdrawn despite representations from India ostensibly on the ground that the number of Indian asylum seekers was on the rise, official sources told PTI.