Shinde, Malik to formalise visa regime

NEW DELHI, Sept 27:
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik are soon expected to formalise the recently-signed liberalised visa agreement between the two countries.
Official sources said Shinde and Malik are likely to be present in a function, expected to be held next month in Wagah border post, where the first batch of visitors from India and Pakistan will be given group visa, heralding a new era in India-Pakistan relations.
Officials of both the countries are working on the modalities of the visa issuing process and the visa to visitors of each other country will be issued simultaneously.
Using the opportunity of attending the function, both the leaders may hold a dialogue at the venue to discuss issues concerning India and Pakistan.
The new visa pact, signed on September 8 in Islamabad by Malik and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, replaces a 38-year-old restrictive visa agreement and paved the way for time-bound visa approval and greater people-to-people contacts and boost trade.
While there was no time-frame for issuance of non-diplomatic visas, the new pact says visa has to be issued within a period of not exceeding 45 days of application.
Under the new regime, one can visit five places instead of the three at present and those above 65 years of age and children below 12 years of age and “eminent” businessmen are exempted from police reporting.
The new group tourist visa will be issued for not less than 10 people and not more than 50 people. This visa will be valid for 30 days and will have to be applied through tour operators registered by the two Governments.
Under the category of Visitor visa, earlier only single- entry visa for three months were issued for meeting relatives, friends, business or other legitimate purpose. Moreover, visa could be only issued for longer period not exceeding one year owing to the nature of work or business.
Under the new pact, single-entry visa is to be issued for six months but stay should not exceed three months at a time and for five places.
Under a new Category II, a visitor visa for a maximum five specified places may be issued for a longer period, up to two years with multiple entries to senior citizens (those above 65 years), spouses of a national of one country married to a person of another country and children below 12 years of age accompanying parents as given earlier. (PTI)


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