Last Updated on October 27, 2023
Countries throughout the Asia Pacific region are positioned to gradually reopen to international travelers after two years of strict regulations and closed borders. To help travelers prepare for the reopening of these countries, a list of short-term business travel options for several countries and jurisdictions throughout the Asia Pacific region is found here. Some of these options may continue to be limited due to the conditions of the pandemic and individual assessments made by each jurisdiction’s government. Envoy continues to track these developments through our Global Mobility Resource center.
The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)
The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) is a convenient travel option for nationals of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member country or jurisdiction who frequently travel throughout the Asia Pacific region for short-term business purposes. The ABTC grants APEC foreign nationals pre-clearance to travel between APEC member states without requiring a visa. In some jurisdictions, it also enables the holder to faster customs processing upon arrival.
Once granted, the ABTC is issued as a five-year card that can be used as entry authorization to participating APEC jurisdictions. However, if the holder renews their passport during the five-year period, the card must be updated and reissued to account for the passport number change. Holders will be permitted to remain in the country or jurisdiction for short-term business purposes for up to 60 or 90 days, depending on the conditions set by the APEC member state or jurisdiction.
Currently, APEC member states include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. However, Canada and the United States are only transitional member states of the ABTC scheme and do not permit foreign nationals of other APEC member states to enter visa-free. Instead, these ABTC holders are granted faster entrance and clearance options when entering either Canada or the United States.
As of January 2022, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation advised that some international travel is severely curtailed or suspended due to the ongoing pandemic. Travelers should continue to monitor entry restrictions and travel destination requirements before making travel plans.
The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card
While India is not a member state of APEC, travelers of Indian origin and their spouses may instead be eligible for the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card. Although it does not grant the same rights as a citizen of India, the OCI card grants holders multiple entry and long-term visa-free visits to India. It also allows holders to perform certain work activities in India for an indefinite period. In January 2022, the government of India extended the timeline for re-issuance of the OCI card until 31 Dec. 2022. For additional information on qualifications and the application process, click here.
Short-Term Visa-Free Travel Schemes
As more countries begin to reopen their borders to international travelers, short-term visa-free travel options might be an alternative travel route for some business travelers.
As the government of Vietnam has begun to lift COVID-19 restrictions, it has reimplemented visa-free travel schemes for business travelers arriving from the countries of Belarus, Russia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Under these schemes, travelers from these countries are permitted to enter Vietnam for a period of 15 days without requiring a work permit. These visa-free travel schemes will remain in effect until 2025.
Nationals of Hong Kong and Macau are now permitted to enter the Philippines as temporary visitors for a period of 14 days without requiring a business or tourist visa. The government also recently resumed visa-free travel schemes with 133 countries and regions. As a result, nationals from these countries and regions are permitted to enter the Philippines, visa-free, for business or tourist purposes for an initial period of 30 days.
Travelers should check each government’s website to ensure that the business work activities being performed are allowable and do not require additional work authorization. Travelers should also ensure that they adhere to any COVID-19 entry restrictions and entry requirements prior to traveling.
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This article was published on 29 March 2022 and may not be the most recent update concerning COVID-19 entrance restrictions, testing requirements and quarantine measurers. For the most recent updates be sure to check our Global Mobility Resource Center.
Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.