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Rediff.com  » News » New visa agreement between India-Pak not radical

New visa agreement between India-Pak not radical

September 08, 2012 16:25 IST

Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt, who is travelling with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on his three-day tour of Pakistan, compares the new visa agreement to the old one

The visa agreement between India and Pakistan that has been finalised on Saturday, almost a year after to-and-fro dialogues, is a diluted one.

Both countries have tried to remain inside the purview of their current law and diplomatic position.

Although by no means the visa agreement is radical, India and Pakistan can take satisfaction that something is better than nothing.

Initially, according to the draft visa agreement, it was proposed that anybody above 60 years of age would get a visa on arrival, but this was not accepted by both the nations. Now, the age limit of 65 has been agreed upon.

Persons of more than 65 years of age will be granted a single entry visa on arrival at the Attari/Wagah check posts for 45 days. This visa will be non-extendable and non-convertible, according to the agreement. 

Only rich businessmen will be able to get visa easily. Any businessmen with an annual sale of Rs 30 lakh and above will be granted a visa, which will be valid to visit five places in the neighbouring country and can be used for a maximum of four entries.

With effect from Saturday, the norms for diplomatic visa, non-diplomatic visa, official visa, visitor visa, pilgrim visa, transit visa, group transit visa, business visa will be changing.    

Here is the comparison between old and new visa agreements as the Ministry of External Affairs sees it: 

Category

Existing Agreement

 

Diplomatic Visa

Category I     No mention of timeframe for issuing visa     Period of validity will be ordinarily one year   Category II     Single entry visa will be granted to high-ranking dignitaries     The purpose of visit could be official, business or international conference

Category I     To be issued within a period not exceeding 30 days of application     Specifies that the visa is valid for the place and duration of assignment and for visiting other places special permission shall be sought.   Category II     Such visa will be granted to high-ranking dignitaries holding diplomatic passports.     No special mention of the purpose of visit.

Non-Diplomatic Visa

    No mention of timeframe for issuing visa

    To be issued within a period not exceeding 45 days of application

Official Visa

    Valid for one month

    Valid for 15 days

Visitor visa

    visa to be issued for three months for meeting relatives, friends, business or other legitimate purpose.     However the visa may be issued for longer period not exceeding one year if owing to the nature of work or business.

    visa to be issued for a maximum period 6 months but stay not to exceed 3 months at a time and for 5 places.      ( currently limited to 3 places) 2) Business visa separated from visitor's visa.   Category II ( new)   A visitor visa for a maximum five specified places  may be issued for a longer period upto two years with multiple entries to :              Senior citizens (those above 65 years of age);      Spouse of a national of one country married to person of another country; and     Children below 12 years of age accompanying parent(s) as given in (b) above.

Transit visa

    To be issued for 72 hours

    To be issued for 36 hours

Group Tourist visa

No provision

    For not less than 10 people and not more than 50 people-valid for 30 days-organised by approved tour operators/travel agents to furnish details 45 days in advance. The tour operator will be responsible for police reporting on behalf of the group.     List of designated Tour Operators as well as list of approved / identified routes and tourist destinations will be exchanged by both sides from time to time.     The Group Tourist Visa facility will also be available to students of educational institutions of both countries. However, this will be a tourist visa only and not for seeking admission in educational institutions of either country.

Business visa

    Part of visitor visa category i.e., single entry for 3 months and for 1 year in certain cases.

Category I   Businessmen with an 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 one year business visa, with five places for up to four entries.   Category II   Businessmen with an income of at least Pak Rs. five million or equivalent per annum or turnover of Pak Rs. thirty million or equivalent per annum will be given one year multiple entry business visas for upto ten places, with exemption from Police Reporting.   General Instructions   The visa shall specify that the period of stay of the businessman at a time shall not exceed 30 days. The maximum time taken in processing of a will not exceed more than five weeks.

Pilgrim Visa ***

No provision

Pilgrim visas will be issued to Pilgrims intending to visit religious shrines as per the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, or any future revision to the Protocol.  Such visas will need to be applied at least 45 days before the commencement of the intended tour. The visas will be issued at least ten days before the commencement of travel. These visas will be issued for a single entry, restricted to 15 days validity and would be non-extendable

Visa on arrival

No provision

    Persons of more than 65 years of age- at Attari/Wagha checkpost for 45 days. This visa will be non-extendable and non-convertible.

Check Posts

    By Air-India: Mumbai, Delhi and Amritsar. Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad     By Sea- Mumbai and Karachi     By Land- Wagha/Attari and Khokhrapar/Munabao   Persons have to enter and exit through the same route and have to use same mode of travel for onward and return journey. Exemptions made on case to case basis

    By Air- India: Mumbai/ Delhi/Chennai. Pakistan: Karachi/Lahore/Islamabad     By Sea- Mumbai/Karachi     By Land- Wagha/Attari and  Khokhrapar/Munabao   However, this is subject the exception that Exit from Wagha/Attari, by road (on Foot) cannot be accepted, unless the entry was also by foot via Attari/Wagha.

Registration

    Registration within 24 hours   (Exemption from Police Reporting (EPR) given on a case to case basis)

1) Registration within 24 hours Persons of more than sixty-five years of age, children below twelve years of age and Eminent Businessmen are exempted from Police Reporting. Bona fide businessmen, not in EPR category, may depute their authorized representatives for reporting.

Seamen

Issued a Landing Permit for a period not exceeding 24 hrs.

No change

Fee

Currently 12 Indian Rupees and 15 PKR

Fixed as 100 PKR or equivalent in INR

Validity of Visa

No provision

The applicant must avail the visa within a period of 90 days from the date of issue. If there are grounds requiring extension of validity, the concerned Mission will take a decision on such requests on priority.  This provision will not be applicable to the holders of Business Visa

Sheela Bhatt in Islamabad