Multiple-entry visas for China suspended in Hong Kong
HONG KONG, April 8 – China has stopped issuing multiple-entry visas and slowed the processing time for single- and double-entry visas for foreigners in Hong Kong.
Amid growing instability in Tibet and with the Olympics right around the corner, the Chinese government appears to be stepping up restrictions on foreigners entering China from Hong Kong, long a major gateway to the mainland.
According to travel agencies in the region, applicants are only being issued single-entry visas, with double-entry visas only being issued if airline tickets or detailed itinerary can be provided explaining why two entries are required during the same trip. The duration of stay for either single- or double-entry visa is 30 days.
It is also now being recommended to apply in advance of planned travel to the mainland, as processing times are slowing as well. Travel agent Luk Tak told the Associated Press that visa processing times have slowed from same-day to next-day turnaround as only the Foreign Ministry’s Hong Kong office is accepting application now. In the past, travel agents would often apply in the neighboring mainland cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai.
The suspension, which appears to be both related to the upcoming Olympics as well as the ongoing political unrest in the nation’s western regions, took effect on March 28 and will last until October 17.
Chinese authorities are also said to be stepping up enforcement of other rules and regulations applying to foreigners on the mainland.
A recent letter circulating around the mainland warns foreigners with residence permits in China to make sure they register with their local police station within 24 hours of arriving in China, and every time they return to the mainland from abroad. While these rules have been in place for years, the letter suggests that the authorities will step up enforcement of the regulations ahead of the Summer Games.
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