30th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) A local travel agency has revealed that India has temporarily suspended issuing tourist visas to holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports. However, business visas remain unaffected, and individuals with British National Overseas (BN(O)) passports can still apply for both types of visas. The suspension is believed to be related to the recent border conflicts and increasing tension between China and India in recent years, which has consequently affected Hong Kong. In response, a government spokesperson stated that the Immigration Department has been actively seeking the latest information from the Consulate General of India in Hong Kong, in order to advocate for greater travel convenience for Hong Kong SAR passport holders. They also advised SAR passport holders to check the official websites of their intended destinations or directly contact relevant authorities for the latest updates before travelling.
In a search of the website of the Consulate General of India in Hong Kong, no official announcement regarding the visa suspension has been made thus far. However, the Indian Embassy in China has issued a notice stating the temporary suspension of electronic visas for Chinese passport holders and individuals of other nationalities residing within China due to “certain current developments.” The online Indian visa platform does not include Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao in the list of countries or regions eligible for visa applications, but Taiwan remains on the list.
Freddy Yip Hing-ning, the Managing Director of Goldjoy Travel, expressed that as early as the beginning of this year, India had suspended tourist visas for Chinese and Hong Kong SAR passport holders, while business visas remained unaffected. Consequently, all Indian tour groups organised by travel agencies are currently suspended. He speculated that the differential treatment between SAR passports and BNO passports might be due to India considering SAR passport holders as Chinese citizens, while regarding BN(O) passport holders as British citizens.
Yip further mentioned that the suspension of tour groups to India has not significantly impacted business as there were only around 5 to 6 Indian tour groups with approximately 20 people per month before the pandemic. He believed that apart from India, Hong Kong residents have plenty of alternative destinations to choose from.