The blog on 'What comes first? Visa Confirmation OR Flight Booking' seeks to draw traveler's attention to the significance of Visa and the importance of understanding the visa requirements of the destination country prior to making any travel arrangements.
As per The Global Passport Power Rank 2019, that ranks passports of the world basis their Visa Free Score, India stands at 70th position, relative to the top position held by the United Arab Emirates. India's 70th position is owed to 25 countries offering visa-free entry while 39 countries providing visa on arrival.
Hong Kong, the land with sky-scrapper studded skylines, bags its place in these 25 visa-free destinations for an Indian passport. Despite its categorization as a visa-free country, what makes Hong Kong visa a topic to ponder upon, is its Pre-Arrival Registration ( PAR ). Until 2016, Hong Kong was a destination where Indians could land without any hassles of visa. Hong Kong is still a visa-free country, but what stands changed is the need of Pre-Arrival Registration ( PAR ), an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) valid for 6 months allowing the traveler a 14 days stay on each entry.
(Pre-Arrival Registration: https://www.gov.hk/en/apps/immdindianparreg.htm)
To enter Hong Kong, all that a traveler needs to do is fill personal information in a one-page online form. A form that simply takes about 10 minutes for an average internet user to complete. These two statements make Hong Kong Visa seem like an utmost easy visa procedure. What stands a worrisome possibility, is the failure of the PAR system to register the applicant. At times, the registration fails with an error message stating, ‘Pre-arrival Registration Unsuccessful’. Can the applicant re-submit the online form? The answer is NO. Because the system failure once occurred, keeps on reoccurring for the respective applicant. Can the applicant approach the Hong Kong Embassy for a resolution? Yet again, the answer is 'NO'. Because there is no HK Embassy in India for the traveler to visit.
The only way to obtain your entry permit into Hong Kong is by sending hard copies of the required documents to Hong Kong Immigration. Entailing a fee of HK $190 (approx INR 1800), it involves a processing time of 4 weeks.
Documents Required for applying for an HK visa through HK Immigration Department(Alldocuments must be in English):
Completed application and bank draft along with above documents should be sent by post to:
Receipt and Despatch Sub-unit
Hong Kong Immigration Department
2/F, Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
To shorten the processing time, documents can be sent by fax to +852 2824 1133 prior to sending the documents by post. However, the original copy of the duly completed application forms and the photograph required should be sent immediately to the Hong Kong Immigration Department by air mail.
Application Status can be checked by calling at +852 3160 8663 or through the online portal: http://www.gov.hk/en/apps/immdextensionstayenquiry.htm
If the application is approved by the HK Immigration, the Visa label will be mailed to the applicant directly through air mail. This visa/entry permit label should be affixed onto a blank visa page of the passport to present to the immigration officer upon arrival in the HKSAR (HongKong Special Administrative Region).
‘Travelers should understand the complexity hidden behind the simplicity of the PAR process. In case of unsuccessful PAR, obtaining Visa Label from the HK Immigration is a tedious process with undependable timelines. It betters the choice to drop the travel plan for the time over living in suspense about the status of the application. Thus no matter how simple the procedure may appear, it is advisable for travelers to book flight tickets only after obtaining the PAR and avoid losses from cancellation and rescheduling' says StampMyVisa.