Immigration, Visa, Foreigners Registration & Tracking (IVFRT) is emerging as the key to the recent surge in number of foreign tourists visiting India. According to the data available with the Union Home Ministry, more than 15 lakh visas were issued between January and May this year using IVFRT. Only 16,509 (1% approx) visas were rejected by the Indian authorities, according to an official.
As per a ET report, out of the total visas granted, 80% (nearly 12 lakhs) of them were cleared within three days of application while 97% were issued within a week, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The home ministry impressed with these numbers is planning to extend the duration of stay on tourist visa on arrival up to three months.
At present, foreigners are granted tourist visa on arrival for 30 days while a normal tourist visa can be obtained for six months. The scheme, popularly known as e-Tv was introduced by the Central Government for 150 countries in November 2014, following which a sharp rise have been registered in number of foreign tourists.
A senior Home Ministry official said, “As many as 9.75 lakhs e-tourist visa were issued since the time the scheme came into existence and 87% (8.5 lakhs approx) of these were granted within 48 hours of applying.” He further added, Delhi followed by Mumbai and Chennai have registered the highest footfalls of foreigners.
The Home Ministry is also planning to give more benefits to those visiting India on e-Tv after Kerala government urged them not to take bio-metrics of foreign nationals coming from Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has expressed discomfort in providing biometric of its nationals under IVFRT. However, home ministry said that they cannot relax the security norms but can consider extension of e-Tv to three months.