India to simplify visa procedures with China

By Kartikeya Sharma

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to visit China for two days from October 23

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to visit China for two days from October 23

Notwithstanding the recent stapled visa row involving two young Arunachali archers, the Union Cabinet is all set to clear an MoU on simplifying visa procedures with China.

If it is approved, Chinese visitors applying for visas under the Business (B) category will be eligible for a one-year multiple entry visa with a maximum stay of six months.

Currently, a business visa allows a maximum stay of 90 days in a given period of six months.

The agreement is aimed at creating a favourable business climate in the country.

IT companies have been demanding the visa relaxation in this sector, a Cabinet note says. The MoU will also make first-time applicants eligible for three-month visa.

Business reality has to be accepted as a lot of FDI, especially in the infrastructure sector, is flowing in from China, the note says.

Many Chinese nationals had to cancel their visits for the lack of delegation-specific clearance.

"This has been the case even for conference and events organised by government departments. It will encourage people to people contact," it says, adding that most of these visitors were either senior government officers or acclaimed academicians.

The visa relaxation will also apply to the accompanying family members of diplomats and officials posted at embassy or consulates in the two countries.

Under the new protocol, visas will cover the entire period of posting of the diplomats or officials concerned. The proposal also recommends the relaxation of tourist visa norms. Tourism will benefit if the two-month gap between visits is lifted for Chinese visitors, the note says.

As per the Cabinet proposal, the Ministry of Home Affairs will have to process clearance for employment and project visas within 40 days. Inordinate delays have been reported in visa clearances due to the absence of any deadline. Last year, the Indian consulates issued 834 conference visas.

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