Pakistan and India Saturday signed the much-awaited liberal visa accord at the Ministry of Interior.
Interior Minister R. Malik from Pakistani side and External Affairs Minister Krishna from Indian side signed the agreement in the presence of high-level officials from both sides.
This agreement will supersede all previous agreements on the subject and it can be amended by mutual consent through exchange of notes or by signing the supplementary protocols. The journalist visa category as earlier reported in the media is not part of that agreement.
Under the agreement, the applicants must avail the visa within a period of ninety days from the date of issue and if they are grounds requiring extension of validity, the concerned Mission will take a decision on such requests on priority. This provision will however not applicable for the holders of business visa. A fee of one hundred will be payable for the issuance or extension of visa.
The draft of the visa agreement have nine categories.
Business Visa: This visa will be issued to bonafide businessman who intend to travel for business purpose between India and Pakistan. Businessmen with an income of Pak Rs. 0.5 million or equivalent per annum or annual turnover/gross sale of Pak Rs. 3 millions or equivalent will be given one year business visa, with five places for up to four entries.
Business with an income of at least Pak rupees five million or equivalent per annum or turnover of Pak rupees 30 million or equivalent per annum will be given one year multiple entry visas for up to ten places with exemption from police reporting. The visa shall specify that the period of stay at a time shall not exceed 30 days. The maximum time taken into the processing of a business visa will not exceed more than five weeks.
Visa on Arrival: Persons of more than 65 years of age (senior citizens)will be granted single entry visa on arrival at the Attrai/Wagah check post for 45 days. This visa will be non extendable and non convertible .
Visitors Visa: A visitor visa will be issued to persons visiting the other country to meet the relatives or friends or for any other legitimate purpose. This visa will be valid for a maximum of five specified places and shall be for a period not exceeding six months. The visa shall also specify that the duration of stay of the visitor at a time shall not exceed three months.
A visitor visa for a maximum of five specified places may be issued for a longer period of up to two years with multiple entries to senior citizens (those above 65 years of age); national of one country, married to an a national of the other country; and children below 12 years of age accompanying parent (s).
Pilgrims Visa: Pilgrim visa will need to be applied at least 45 days before the commencement of the intended tour. The visas will be issued at least 10 days before the commencement of travel. These visas will be issued for a single entry, restricted to 15 days validity and would be non-extendable.
Group Tour Visa: Group tourist visa may be issued to individual applicants intending to travel in groups, with not less than 10 members and not more than 50 members in each group organized by approved tour operators/travel agents. Such visa will be valid for up to 30 days and will be non-extendable. This visa facility will also be available to the students of educational institutions of both countries but it would not be for those seeking admissions in educational institutions of either country.
Transit Visa: Transit visa valid for up to two entries in the city/port of entry for 36 hours in each case will be issued to persons travelling by air or sea and proceeding to another country through Pakistan/India. Such transit visa will need to be obtained before undertaking the ravel.
Diplomatic Visa/Non-Diplomatic Visa: A diplomatic visa valid for multiple entries will be issued to the heads of the Diplomatic and Consular Missions, members of the Mission holding diplomatic or consular rank, their spouses and children and diplomatic couriers. Diplomatic visa valid for single entry will be given to high-ranking dignitaries holding diplomatic passports.
Similarly, a non-diplomatic visa valid for multiple entries will be issued to non-diplomatic members of the Diplomatic and Consular Missions, their spouses and children and the personal servants of members of the Mission holding diplomatic or consular ranks. Diplomatic visa shall be originally issued within a period not exceeding 30 days of application and non-diplomatic visa shall be issued within a period not exceeding 45 days of application.
Official Visa: An official visa valid for single entry will be issued to officials entitled to diplomatic or non-diplomatic visa of either country visiting the other on official business including participation in international conferences. This visa will be valid for 15 days for specified places.
Registration: Holders of visitor visas shall be required to register themselves at the check posts of entry and shall, within 24 hours of their reaching the specified place of stay, report their arrival, in writing, to the prescribed authorities or the nearest police station They shall also make a similar report 24 hours prior to their intended departure from the place of stay. Persons of more than 65 of age and children below 12 of age are exempted from police reporting.
Entry/Exit Points: Under the agreement, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad from Pakistani side while Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai from Indian side have been designated as air routes, similarly Karachi and Mumbai as sea routes and Wagah/Attari from Pakistani side as well as Khokhrapar/Munabao from Indian side respectively have been designated as land routes for the entry /exit for the nationals of the either country going to/ coming from the other country.