INDIA is set to extend the validity of business visas and scrap its two-month re-entry prohibition for Chinese travellers, the first time the country is revising its visa laws for China in a decade.
The Indian cabinet is expected to clear these proposals before the week is out, clearing the way for prime minister Manmohan Singh’s signing of a memorandum of understanding with Chinese authorities during his trip to Beijing next week.
Notifications from the Ministry of Home Affairs say that the validity period of multiple-entry business visas will be extended to one year from the current six months. India will also remove the rule barring Chinese visitors from returning within two months of the last visit.
Furthermore, the cabinet is likely to mandate that all conference, project and employment visa applications must be processed within 30 days. Currently, India’s authorities are given an indefinite timeline as they have to seek approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs before issuing visas, a task that takes months.
Commenting on the need to ease visa rules, Niu Qingbao, consul general of China in Mumbai, said: "There are numerous avenues for collaboration. India is an established player in the IT arena. Besides, it has made rapid strides in medical education and healthcare sectors. So, both countries should find ways to join hands."
Sonal Swamy, director of Mumbai-based Syrisa Travels, said: “China and India are the two biggest markets for business and tourism, and any move to complement each other’s interface is likely to benefit not just the two countries bilaterally but also have spillover benefits for neighbouring countries in Asia.
“We expect a surge in Chinese inbound to India and as more business is facilitated, the number of business travellers and tourists will automatically grow.”
News of India’s intentions follows announcements by the UK earlier this week that it would streamline visa processes for Chinese travellers to increase arrivals (TTG Asia e-Daily, October 16, 2013).