NATIONAL

Russia's move to ease visa regime with India

Russia is moving to endorse a simpler visa regime with India in an effort to facilitate enhanced trade and business contacts between the two countries.

At a meeting on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Russian government will discuss a ratification bill for the Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and Russia on Simplification of Requirements for Mutual Travels of Certain Categories of Citizens, government news agency Itar-Tass reported on Monday. The government is expected to send the pact to Parliament for ratification.

The agreement, signed in December 2010, would simplify the procedure for issuing six-month visas for 90-day visits by citizens of Russia and India, who have valid passports, Itar-Tass said. It would also provide for issuing, in some cases, five-year multiple visas.

Benefitting travel

“This will benefit travel between our two countries by businessmen and tourists,” Indian Ambassador Ajai Malhotra said.

The Indian Embassy last month cut from 14 to three working days the time visas are issued to Russians. The validity of visas has been increased from the earlier one-to-three months to six months, with triple or multiple entries being allowed, compared to a single or double entry earlier. Additionally, the embassy is now granting one-year multiple entry business visas instead of three or six months visa with a single/double entry.

“These changes will enhance tourist and business flows from Russia to India,” Mr. Malhotra said. “We issued about 1,10,000 visas to Russian citizens in 2010, overwhelming majority to tourists. I hope to see this number expand by at least 25% in 2011.”

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