NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government, as part of its initiative to simplify the visa regime, is set to introduce distinct codes for various categories and sub-categories of visas and extend visa-on-arrival facility to select countries.
Sources in the home ministry said the e-tourist visa may be rechristened as ‘e-visa’ with specific codes for each of its sub-categories like e-tourist visa, e-medical visa and e-business visa.
The purpose behind codification of visas, on the lines of the system followed by the US, is to ensure hassle-free immigration for foreigners, a senior official said.
“As of now, there are 24 categories of visas offered by India, including diplomatic, employment, tourist, business, student, spouse, research and conference visa… The idea is to enable the immigration officer to gather the maximum information about the purpose of visit with a mere look at the code mentioned in the visa.
“This will minimize room for discretion on part of immigration officers while quizzing foreign visitors as part of immigration checks,” said the officer.
The simplified visa regime is at an advanced stage of discussion and a Cabinet note in this regard is expected to be moved soon. A key change in visa norms is expansion of visa-on-arrival facility, now offered to only Japanese citizens.
Visa-on-arrival is offered by many countries to promote tourism. Visa-on-arrival is likely to replace the e-tourist visa facility in the countries of its launch.
“However, unlike the e-visa facility, that is extended to 150 nations, citizens of only a few, non-risk nations would be granted visa-on-arrival,” said an officer.