India revises tourist visa rules


New Delhi on Thursday announced that the Indian Missions abroad as well as the immigration authorities had been authorised to relax the rule that had made it mandatory for the foreign tourists with multi-entry tourist visas to have a gap of two months between two entries to India. 

“To facilitate bona fide tourists, it has since been decided that foreigners holding tourist visas, who after initial entry into India plan to visit another country and re-enter India before finally exiting, may be permitted two or three entries, as the case may be, by the Indian Missions or posts, subject to their submission of a detailed itinerary and supporting documentation like ticket bookings,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

It added that the immigration authorities in all the immigration check posts in India had also been authorised to allow tourists to make two or three entries, as the case may be, based on production of an itinerary and documents substantiating the need for tourism related travel.

The new guidelines on multi-entry tourist visas were issued on November 4 last, after the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informed their counterparts in New Delhi that the arrested Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Toiba operative David Coleman Headley used a multi-entry visa to make nine trips to India between September 2006 and March 2009.
He was later charged with being involved with the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Though New Delhi sought to prevent the abuse of multi-entry tourist visas by changing the rules; its move evoked protests from both Washington and London.

The British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Lord Peter Mendelson told Home Minister P Chidambaram during a meeting here last Wednesday that the tourists from UK might find the mandatory two months’ break between their long stays in India too long.

In an advisory posted on its website for American citizens travelling in India or planning to come to the country, the US embassy in New Delhi alleged that India’s new rules were being “inconsistently implemented”.

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