09 October 2012

Hong Kong unhappy over Taiwan joining US Visa Waiver Program

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Hong Kong businesses have expressed their disappointment that Taiwan has been granted access to the US Visa Waiver Program and they haven't, despite consistent lobbying to do so.

US visa

Hong Kong feel they should have been given access to the US Visa Waiver Program before Taiwan

Taiwan recently became the 37th country to gain access to the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) which allows eligible citizens to enter the US for a period of 90 days without the need for a full US visa.

But Hong Kong business travellers, tourists and even some government bodies have expressed their disappointment that Taiwan was prioritised over Hong Kong.

"It's disappointing because we've been asking for [access to the VWP] for quite some time, and they still won't give it to us," said Joseph Tun, executive director of the Travel Industry Council.

"[Hong Kong travellers] behave well, never cause trouble and spend handsomely, so why do they give it to Taiwan and not Hong Kong?"

China is not currently part of the VWP but Hong Kong, as an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, is subject to different international arrangements.

However, Taiwan's relationship with China is also debated and could cause difficulties for the US, further aggravating Hong Kong's advocates.

"All of the reasons Taiwan was approved... Hong Kong is also very strong in," said Richard Vuylsteke, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

"My private speculation is they don't know how to handle mainland Chinese with [Hong Kong] resident status."


The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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