Simplified visa rules for Indians travelling to Russia have come into force scrapping the need to prove one's good-faith intentions and allowing for long-term multi-entry visas.
The rules became effective on Friday after President Dmitry Medvedev signed into law a bilateral visa simplification agreement signed last year and the law was published in the official gazette.
Individuals and organisations are no more required to produce an invitation or a tourist voucher to obtain a six-month visa for a 90-day stay.
The agreement also provides for the issuance of multi-entry one-year and five-year visas subject to certain conditions that are yet to be spelled out. Multi-entry visas will allow Indian and Russian citizens holding valid national passports to stay on the territory of the other country for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days from their first entry.
The simplified visa rules apply to tourists, students, official delegations, businessmen, persons involved in scientific, cultural and creative professions, and sister city exchanges.
Those Indians and Russians who lose their travel documents will now find it easier to return to their home country. The Indian embassy in Russia liberalised visa rules for Russian citizens in June when it started issuing multi-entry business visas valid for one year against six months in the past and tourist visas valid for six months with multiple entries.
According to Indian Ambassador to Russia Ajay Malhotra, the number of Indian visas issued to Russians is expected to increase by 25 per cent to more than 127,000 as India becomes an increasingly popular destination with Russian tourists.