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New Delhi Correspondent
India said on Tuesday that it aims at a simple and hassle-free visa regime to facilitate arrival and stay of foreign travellers in the country.
Addressing a conference “Streamlining of India’s Visa regime” here today, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba highlighted various policy initiatives taken to liberalize the visa regime, taking into account the concerns and suggestions made by various Ministries and stakeholders, including Ministries of Civil Aviation, Tourism, Health and Higher Education.
Emphasizing that India has the potential to become a global hub for education and tourism, Gauba called for a change in the mindset at the field-level to make foreigners feel welcomed in the country. He said that at the same time, security should also be strengthened, using technological tools.
Citing the recently-launched e-FRRO module which provides 27 visa-related services to foreigners, he said it has obviated the need for foreigners to visit Foreigners Registration Offices for extending their stay and change of visa status.
e-Visa facility now covers 166 countries and foreigners can obtain online visa within 72 hours for travel related to tourism, business, health, medical attendant and conference purposes, the Home Secretary added.
The number of e-Visas issued has seen a tremendous growth in the last four years from 5.17 lakh in 2015 to 21 lakh till 30th November this year. The number of visas issued through e-visa system is now approximately 40% of the total number of visas issued and the figure is soon expected to cross the 50% mark, Gauba said adding “our e-Visa regime is one of the best in the world.”
Highlighting some of the other visa liberalization measures, he cited relaxation introduced in grant of internship visa which can be obtained by a student while still pursuing a course in the country without remuneration, extension of business visa beyond five years, conversion of visa into medical category in an emergency for a foreigner who is already in the country and permission for foreigners who are on long duration visa to attend conferences.