I refer to the letter headlined 'Chilly welcome on arrival in SAR' (South China Morning Post, September 23).
In line with international practice, immigration control officers need to check foreign visitors upon arrival to ensure that undesirable persons are prevented from entry. The sole purpose is to protect Hong Kong's interests and security.
The immigration control officer will ascertain passengers' bona fides as genuine visitors and ensure they meet the normal immigration requirements including visas for certain nationals.
We have a performance pledge to clear 92 per cent of passengers within 15 minutes at the airport control point.
Therefore, the immigration check at the counters must be brief.
In order not to delay the flow of passengers and for reasons of privacy, when we need to conduct detailed inquiries, we will use interview rooms away from the counters.
The time required to process non-routine cases varies depending on the workload at the time and the circumstances of individual cases. The interviews are handled by supervisory grade officers and overseen by a senior immigration officer.
They try to complete the interview as swiftly as possible. It is part of the normal clearance procedure and there is no suggestion that the passengers concerned are less welcome than other visitors.
The Immigration Department places great emphasis on providing a courteous and efficient service. Our staff are regularly reminded to be courteous, helpful and considerate. They are trained to treat all passengers impartially, irrespective of sex, nationality, race and religion.
Let me assure your readers that we welcome visitors from Vietnam as much as visitors from other countries.
T. P. CHOY
Immigration Airport Division
for Director of Immigration