By News Desk
New Delhi: India has taken a major step to boost tourism in the country. From next year (October, 2015) it will extend visa-on arrival to tourists of all nations barring eight countries. The barred countries are Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia. No reasons have been given for the countries exempted from the scheme.
“We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations. It will take 5-6 months for the respective departments to put the required infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October,” said Planning Minister Mr. Rajiv Shukla.
India currently offers visa-on-arrival to tourists from 11 countries like Finland, the Philippines, Singapore and Japan. This facility is now being extended to 180 countries.
Following a high-level meeting with representatives from various ministries, the Minister said the electronic visa would be valid for 30 days from the date of the tourist’s arrival in India.
The scheme is still to be approved by the cabinet and the notification from the Home Ministry is likely at an appropriate time, the Minister said.
A separate website would be set up for extending the facility to foreigners intending to visit India as tourists. To get visa, they would need to apply in the designated website along the required fees. They would be granted an electronic version of the visa within three days.
“Visa-on-arrival can be availed in all 26 major domestic airports from where international flights ply,” the Minister said.
BIOMETRIC DATA FROM VISAS
Meanwhile, the Parliament was told by the Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry Preneet Kaur in reply to a question that the Government has launched a pilot project in the Indian Consulates to collect the biometric data of all foreign nationals applying for visas to India.
Biometric procedures have been started in a phased manner in Indian Missions and Posts abroad.
Presently enrolment of biometric data for visas has been introduced in 32 Indian Missions and Posts abroad. Remaining Missions and Posts are expected to be covered in the course of the current year.
The biometric identification system will eliminate the possibility of fake visas and strengthen security aspects of visa issuing system.
Biometric data is a general term used to refer to any computer data that is created during a biometric process. This includes samples, models, fingerprints, similarity scores and all verification or identification data excluding the individual’s name and demographics.
- SAT News Service