Friday, January 8, 2010

India Goes Rigid With Its Visa Rules

Recently, India made its visa rules tighter prohibiting the travelers from returning to India within 2 months of their visit to the country. Seeing this new guideline in the traveler visa rules of India, Britain quickly wedged a diplomatic protest against it. This tightening of the visa rule by the Indian government has been prompted by the recent arrest of David Headley. David Headley, a Pakistani-American is a prime suspect in the country who has been slapped with charges by the FBI on being a part of a dirty conspiracy relating to the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. The charged was found to have made nine trips to the country using a multiple entry business visa and in his visits he is also alleged to have visited several of the potential targets.

By going stricter with its visa rules, the country has also targeted the travelers who make long term visits to India by abusing their business visas and prolonging their stay here, which often stretch on for years. According to the news reports, the US Deputy Chief of Mission has taken up this matter seriously with the Home Ministry officials and the MEA, requesting them for a more flexible rule which will follow the “best visa practices”. To add to this, the British High Commissioner has also written a letter to the Government, requesting for a reconsideration of the decision given that several British passport holders of Indian-origin will be badly affected by this new rule. Since the issuance of PIO takes up a lot of times, the two countries think that the next best option available for these people is being taken away. To this, the Government explained that in a case where a visa holder needs to travel back to India within two months of their departure, he or she can approach the nearest Indian Consulate or Embassy.

The government then took up the matter for consideration of granting exemptions in exceptional cases and later declared that such a foreign national can be allowed to revisit the country if there are emergencies like serious illness in the family, death, non-availability of connecting flights for return. However, only those requests which will be backed with complete and proper documentation will be granted the permission by the concerned mission. Besides, the inbound tourist will also need to state that the purpose of his/her visit to India is purely emergency based and has nothing to do with business, employment, education etc. Also, once in this country, the visa holder will be required to visit the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Office for registration.

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