Union cabinet simplifies visa regime

The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved merger of existing tourist, business, medical and conference visa categories to make one comprehensive long-term multiple entry visa category.

The cabinet also decided that citizens of eight more countries will be eligible for e-tourist visa on arrival. Already citizens of 155 countries are eligible for e-tourist visa.

A government statement said the cabinet approved liberalisation, simplification and rationalisation of the existing visa regime.

Under the new non-permanent, non-working comprehensive visa category tourists, businessmen or people coming for medical treatment or to attend conferences or even for film shoots will be covered. The visa will be given for 10 years with multiple entry facility, said a government official.

The official added that except those covered under 10-year travel and trade visa policy, citizens of other countries would be offered five-year multiple visa for travel and trade. Further, if the stay is restricted to 60 days on a visit, the government may waive the visa fee as well. But to meet security concerns, the government will seek biometric details of the visitors.

The cabinet approval came following discussions among all stakeholders that included ministries of home, commerce and external affairs.

The original proposal for liberlisation of visa regime came from commerce ministry.

A government statement said the decision considerably ease the travel of foreigners to India for the above-mentioned legitimate purposes.

Package for PoK refugee families

Meanwhile, the Union cabinet also approved a Rs 2,000 crore development package for displaced people of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) living in J&K and Chammb.

The package includes approval for home ministry’s proposal to provide enhanced financial aid to 36,384 families. Each of these families will get around Rs 5.5 lakh as aid.