India tightens tourist visa rules

India has tightened its rules for long-term tourist visas in a move that will hit thousands of foreigners living in the country or planning lengthy stays.

India tightens tourist visa rules

India has tightened its rules for long-term tourist visas in a move that will hit thousands of foreigners living in the country or planning lengthy stays, a foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

Under previous rules, tourists on five- or 10-year visas were required to leave the country every 180 days. But many would simply fly to a neighbouring country such as Nepal for a brief stay before returning.

Now they will still face the same 180-day deadline, but will have to stay out of the country for two months before they can re-enter.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said on Wednesday there were "gaps" in the visa system.

"The compelling need to create a fool-proof system cannot be overstated," said Chidambaram.

The plan would be a blow for many tourists who use India as a hub to visit other countries in the region, as well as for some businessmen who use long-term tourist visas for regular trips to India to avoid red tape and paperwork delays.

Foreign missions in India have complained of inconsistency and a lack of clarity in the new and proposed rules.

"These new visa and registration regulations are being implemented inconsistently and are not finalised," the U.S. Mission in India said in a notice on its website, adding it had received complaints from several Americans about the new rules.

Local media reported British Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson, on a recent visit to India, raised the issue with Chidambaram.

"We understand the Indian government is reconsidering its plans. We have written to the government asking for some clarifications," a British High Commission official said.

There are signs the government may reconsider. The Indian Express paper reported on Thursday the government will allow foreigners to return to India within two months as long as they make a full disclosure of their travel plans.

The move comes on the heels of limits on business visas earlier in the year: India said those working in the country on business visas needed employment permits, which affected hundreds of Chinese engineers working on power projects in the country.



Agencies

Last Mod: 24 Aralık 2009, 15:57
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