Cards that open doors
Companies using serviced offices often have staff members or overseas visitors who come to Hong Kong frequently on business and might not know that it is possible to get a travel pass that allows them to whizz through immigration.
Bridges Executive Centre promotes the option on its website and offers busy executives the opportunity to get the passes as a service to clients.
'We promote this service among our clients, since most of them are frequent business travellers,' says managing director Fion Sen. 'The Frequent Visitor Card issued by Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is very convenient to enjoy speedy immigration clearance by accessing the 'Frequent Visitor Channel'.'
Passengers from any country can apply for the Frequent Visitor Card, if they can prove they visited Hong Kong and entered through HKIA at least three times in the past 12 months. They need to provide a photocopy of the relevant passport pages, including their multi-entry visa if necessary, and a postal address. Applications are processed within four to eight weeks and the visitor card is valid for two years. It is easily renewable if applicants can show they visited Hong Kong six times before the expiry date.
'We help clients handle the whole application process and submit the required documents on their behalf for approval,' Sen says. 'This service can spare them a lot of hassle, especially when they are living overseas.'
Bridges also helps arrange the Travel Pass issued by the Immigration Department and offers streamlined entry at the 'Hong Kong Resident' counters of the immigration control points. Valid for three years, the pass allows travellers to make multiple entries and stay for two months each time. It allows passport holders to enter Hong Kong without the need for a visa.
'The Travel Pass is particularly useful for those passport holders who could otherwise only stay in Hong Kong for 14 days for one trip because of their passport type, such as business travellers from India and the Ukraine,' Sen says.
Bridges helps clients to organise and prepare supporting letters, such as a letter from their company supporting their application, background information of their company, and a supporting letter from their major Hong Kong business contact, proof of entry to Hong Kong, proof of business transaction documents, and anything else that may be required by the Immigration Department.
The government has now extended the automated passenger clearance to users of the visitor cards and travel passes, and travellers can enrol at the enrolment office in the arrival hall of Terminal 1. Passengers will be able to pass through immigration using the Frequent Visitor e-Channel and will receive a landing strip which they are advised to keep for card renewal.
While it sounds easy, sometimes putting the application together needs a trained eye, as Bridges often needs to help clients find out whether they are eligible for the cards. Clients need to prove three entries via HKIA, but there are so many different chops in their passport. Only the black entry chop is from the HKIA. The green one is from China Ferry Terminal, blue is from Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal and red is from Lok Ma Chau or Lo Wu.