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Q.81 New visa regime with Pakistan

November 29, 2012

RAJYA SABHA
STARRED QUESTION NO.81

TO BE ANSWERED ON 29.11.2012


NEW VISA REGIME WITH PAKISTAN

*81. SHRI HUSAIN DALWAI:

Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:
(a) whether India and Pakistan have signed new visa regime recently;

(b) if so, the details thereof; and

(c) in what manner, the new liberal visa regime would help in boosting trade and tourism between the two countries?

ANSWER

THE MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
(SHRI SALMAN KHURSHID)

(a) to (c) A statement is laid on the Table of the House.

STATEMENT REFERRED TO IN REPLY TO PARTS (A) TO (C) OF THE RAJYA SABHA STARRED QUESTION NO. 81 REGARDING "NEW VISA REGIME WITH PAKISTAN” FOR ANSWER ON 29.11.12

  • A new Visa Agreement with Pakistan was signed on September 8, 2012 during the visit of former External Affairs Minister Shri S.M. Krishna to Pakistan. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mr. Rehman Malik signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. Several new features have been introduced in the travel regime through this Agreement.
  • A single entry ‘Visitor Visa’ will be issued to a person visiting the other country (to meet relatives, friends, or for any other legitimate purposes) for a maximum of five specified places (as opposed to three places under the extant rules) and for a period not exceeding six months. The visa shall also specify that the duration of stay at a time shall not exceed three months. A ‘Visitor Visa’ for a maximum of five specific places may also be issued for a longer period of upto two years with multiple entries to: (a) senior citizens (those above 65 years of age); (b) national of one country, married to a national of the other country; and (c) children below 12 years of age accompanying parents as given in (b).
  • To address the concerns of the business community in both countries a separate category of ‘Business Visa’ has been introduced under the new Agreement. Such a visa will be issued to bona-fide businessman who intend to travel for business purposes between India and Pakistan and who fall in two categories:

    (i) Businessman with income of Pak Rs. half million or equivalent per annum, or annual turnover/gross sale of Pak Rs. three million or equivalent will be given a one year Business Visa with five places, for upto four entries.

    (ii) Businessman with an income of at least Pak Rs. five million or equivalent per annum or turnover of Pak Rs. 30 million or equivalent per annum will be given one year multiple entry visas, for upto 10 places, with exemption from police reporting.

    The maximum time that will be taken in processing Business Visas will not exceed more than five weeks.
  • New categories of Pilgrim Visas, and Visa on Arrival have also been introduced. The Group Tourist Visa category has been further liberalized.
  • The ‘Pilgrim Visa’ will be issued to persons intending to visit religious shrines in India and Pakistan, as per the 1974 Protocol on Visit to Religious Shrines or any future revision made to this Protocol.
  • The Group Tourist Visa will now be valid for a period upto 30 days (compared to the earlier 14 days) and may be issued to individual applicants for travel in groups, with not less than 10 members and not more than 50 members in each group, organized by approved tour operators/travel agents. The tour operator will be made responsible for police reporting on behalf of the groups, both on the arrival and departure of the group. The Group Tourist Visa facility will also be available to students of educational institutions of both countries. However, this will be a tourist visa and not for seeking admission in educational institutions. Such tours should be organized by known and reputed academic institutions with sponsorship from a similar institution, purely for non-religious purposes and prior clearance for the tour should have been taken by the approved tour operator from the host country.
  • A ‘Visa on Arrival’ facility is being provided for persons of more than 65 years of age who will be granted single entry visas on arrival at the Attari/Wagah Check Post for 45 days on a non-convertible, non-extendable basis.
  • In addition other measures to ease the implementation of the regime have also been introduced. Normally, the same check-post and same mode of journey for entry and exit would be permitted. In cases where the applicant, at the time of application, has indicated clearly an Exit point different from the Entry point or a mode of Exit journey different from the mode of Entry journey, it can be allowed. However, this is subject to the exception that Exit from Wagha/Attari, by road (on foot) cannot be accepted, unless the entry was also on foot via Attari/Wagha. Furthermore in the matter related to the mandatory police reporting/registration, persons of more than 65 years of age and children below 12 years of age, and prominent businesspersons eligible for one year multiple entry visas for upto 10 places, will be exempted from Police Reporting.
  • Thus, the new Visa Agreement significantly liberalizes the bilateral visa regime in operation between the two countries. It introduces several measures aimed at easing travel between the countries of business persons, tourists, pilgrims, the elderly and children. This will facilitate greater contacts between peoples of the two countries who remain at the heart of the India-Pakistan relationship.

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