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Sep 09, 2012, 12.09 PM IST
India and Pakistan today signed the much-awaited liberalised visa agreement, introducing for the first time group tourist and pilgrim visas, separate visa for businessmen and visa on arrival for those over 65 years of age.
businessmen and visa on arrival for those over 65 years of age.
The new pact, signed between external affairs minister S M Krishna and Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik, replaces a 38-year-old restrictive visa agreement and will pave the way for time-bound visa approval and greater people to people contacts and boost trade.
While there was no time-frame for issuance of non-diplomatic visas, the new pact says that visa has to be issued with a period of not exceeding 45 days of application. Under the new regime, one can visit five places instead of the three at present and those above 65 years of age and children below 12 years of age and "eminent" businessmen are exempted from police reporting.
Under the category of Visitor visa, earlier only single entry visa for three months used to be issued for meeting relatives, friends, business or other legitimate purpose. Moreover, visa could be only issued for longer period not exceeding one year if owing to the nature of work or business. Under the new pact, single entry visa is to be issued for six months but stay should not exceed three months at a time and for five places.
Under a new Category II, a visitor visa for a maximum five specified places may be issued for a longer period, up to two years with multiple entries to senior citizens (those above 65 years), spouses of a national of one country married to a person of another country and children below 12 years of age accompanying parents as given earlier. The new Group Tourist visa will be issued for not less than 10 people and not more than 50 people. This visa will be valid for 30 days and will have to be applied through tour operators, registered by the two governments. 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 forseeking admission in educational institutions of either country. There are two categories for Business visa. Businessmen with an income of Pakistan Rupees half million or equivalent per annum or annual turnover/gross sale of Pakistan Rupees
In Category II, businessmen with an income of at least Pakistan Rupees five million or equivalent per annum or turnover of Pakistan Rupees thirty million or equivalent per annum will be given one year multiple entry business visas for
In what would be a real joy for people from both sides who want to visit religious places across the border, Pilgrim visas will be issued to those 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. Under the new pact, persons of more than 65 years of age will be given visa on arrival at Attari/Wagha checkpost for 45 days. This visa will be non-extendable and non-convertible.
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