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Gov’t set to expand e-immigration scope

MSAR residents may be able to use automated immigration clearance facilities in Germany and Singapore in the future, and vice versa

The city is negotiating with Germany and Singapore to bilaterally allow citizens to use automated immigration clearance systems at local border checkpoints, the Office of the Secretary for Security revealed.
According to the Office’s written reply to legislator Kwan Tsui Hang’s enquiry, the security body’s discussions on the scheme with Germany have reached a mutual consensus on the methods of execution, with details to be announced when the measures are ready for implementation, or a trial run.
Meanwhile, the Office said its negotiations with Singapore are still at the evaluation stage, expecting the parties will start exploring technical issues for the scheme within this year.
Currently, e-immigration systems at the city’s borders are available for MSAR identification card holders, blue-card (work-permit) holders, Chinese visitors holding card-type exit-entry permits for travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macau, as well as holders of Hong Kong identification cards, South Korean passports and Australian passports.
In the interpellation, the legislator enquired as to whether the MSAR authorities would expand the scope of the automated immigration clearance system at local borders in order to improve border-crossing efficiency.
The Security Office responded that it would study the issue to reach a more reciprocal agreement in the future.
According to the Office, an average of 64.5 per cent of Mainland Chinese visitors used the e-immigration clearance system at local border checkpoints last year, an increase of 18.5 percentage points compared to the 46 per cent registered in 2014.
The Office added that it is not appropriate at the moment to expand the scope of the e-service for Mainland Chinese visitors holding booklet-type exit-entry permits, given that the validity of these types of permits needs to be confirmed manually.
Nevertheless, the authorities are expecting all booklet-type exit-entry permits from Mainland China, with a five-year validity, to be replaced by card-type ones by 2019.