15 Sept 2012

The Peaceniks prevail over the Realists: India and Pakistan sign new visa pact

September 9, 2012
While the new visa pact between India and Pakistan is a landmark achievement, it still leaves a lot to be desired to make easier travel possible for the citizens of the two countries. Some suggestions are given in the Aman ki Asha petition, which you may want to sign here. While the full text of the pact does not seem to be online at this time, the most detailed story about the pact has been put out by the ASSOCIATED PRESS OF PAKISTAN, reproduced below. It is not clear when the new regulations come into force.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India on Saturday signed new liberalised visa regime giving more concessions and simplifying the procedure to grant visa with a view to promote people-to-people contacts and enhance trade and business activities between two neighbours.
The new visa regime agreement was signed by Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
According to the new visa regime, more concessions have been given to the businessmen from both the countries with giving them multiple entry one year visa with the exemption from the Police Report and with increasing the number of cities.
Group Tourist Visa
A new category of Group Tourist Visa has been introduced under which a group of 10 to 50 persons will get Group Tourist visa which will be valid for 30 days and it will be managed by the registered tour operators from both the countries.
This type of visa will be organised by approved tour operators and travel agents to furnish details of 45 days in advance.
The tour operator will be responsible for police report on behalf of the group and the list of designated tour operators as well as list of approved identified routes and tourists destinations will be exchanged by both sides from time to time.
In this category, 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.
Diplomatic/ Non-diplomatic Visa
A Diplomatic Visa will be issued within a period of 30 days and it will be valid for the place and duration of assignment of the diplomats instead of previously one year visa.
In the category of non-diplomatic visa, previously there was no mention of time frame and now under the new visa regime agreement, it will be issued within a period of 45 days.
Official visit and visitor visa
In the category of official visit, the visa will be valid for 15 days as compared to previous term of one month.
In the category of visitor visa, there was single entry and validity was 30 days, for meeting with relatives, friends, businessmen but now it will be single entry to be issued for period of six months but stay will not be exceed for three months and it will be for five places instead of current three places.

However, Business Visa has been separated from visitor’s visa and now under a new category, a visitor visa will be issued for a maximum for five specified places and it will be for two years with multiple entries to the senior citizens above the age of 65, spouse of a national of one country married to persons of another country and children below 12 years of age accompanying parents.
In the transit visa category, previously it was issued for 72hours but now it will be issued for 36 hours.

Business Visa
According to the new visa regime, in the category of Business Visa, visa was for three months with single entry in the past but under the new visa regime, businessmen with an income of Rs0.1 million or equivalent per annum or annual turnover or gross sale of Rs3 million or equivalent will be given one year business visa with five places for up to four entries.
Under new visa regime, businessmen with an income of at least Rs5 million or equivalent per annum or turnover of Rs30 million or equivalent per annum will be given one year multiple entry business visa for up to ten places with exemption from Police Reporting.
Under the new visa agreement, the visa shall specify that the period of stay of the businessman at a time shall not exceed 30days.
The maximum time taken in processing of a business visa will not exceed more than five weeks.

Pilgrim Visa
In the category of Pilgrim Visa, under the new visa regime, 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 need to be applied at least 45 days before the commencement of the intended tour.
The visa will be issued at least ten days before the commencement of travel. These visas will be issued for a single entry and restricted to 15 days validity and would be non-extendable.

Visa on arrival
In the category of visa on arrival, under the new visa regime, persons of more than 65 years of age will be given 45 days visa at arrival at Attari Wagah check post and it will be non-extendable and non-convertible.

As compared to previous check posts, when the persons have to enter and exit through the same route and have to use same mode of travel for onward and return journey, under the new visa regime agreement, now the people can enter and exit from different check posts and change in mode of travel will also be permitted.

However, this is subject to the exception that exit from Wagah/Attari by road on foot, where it cannot be accepted, unless the entry was also by foot via Attari/Wagah.
The check posts being used even under new agreement will be by Air from India Mumbai/Delhi/Chennai and from Pakistan it will be Karachi/Lahore and Islamabad.
By sea the check post will be Mumbai/Karachi while by Land it will be Wagah/Attari and Khokhrapar/Munabao.
Seeking visa
For the registration for seeking visa, the time period is the same that it has be within 24 hours but the persons of more than 65years of age, children below 12 years of age and eminent businessmen are exempted from Police Reporting.
There has been no change for seamen which will be given a landing permit for a period not exceeding for 24 hours.
For the visa fee, it has been decided that it will be Rs100 or equivalent instead of the current rate of Rs15 charged as visa fee.

Regarding the validity of the visa, under the new visa regime, it has been agreed that the applicant must avail the visa within a period of 80 days from the date of issue. If there are grounds requiring extension of validity, the concerned mission will take decision on such requests on priority.
This provision will not be applicable to the holders of business visa.