March 11, 2021 7:46:49 am
Before the pandemic kicked in and Indian forces were locked in a standoff with the Chinese PLA in Ladakh, India witnessed among the highest number of arrivals from China on e-visas in 2018 and 2019, the government told Parliament on Wednesday.
Nationals of only two countries—the US and the UK—were ahead of China in availing of e-visas for arrival in India, said the government.
According to the data provided by the government, as many as 2,26,210 Chinese nationals arrived in India on various e-visas for tourism, business, conferences and medical treatment in 2019. This was a marked increase from 2018 when 1,63,146 Chinese arrived in India on e-visas registering — a growth of almost 40%.
A total of 24,70,273 e-visas in 2018 and 28,87,220 in 2019 were issued by India to nationals of 166 countries.
The government data shows that the highest number of arrivals on e-visas in 2019 was from the UK at 3,74,273 followed by the US at 3,48,068. Compared to 2018, while arrivals from the UK had marginally decreased, those from the US had increased by about 20%.
Other countries which availed of a high number of e-visas for India in 2019 included France (1,38,883), Malaysia (1,37,871) and Russia (1,31,125). Both Malaysia and Russia recorded almost 100% increase in availing e-visa for India in 2019 compared to 2018.
The information was provided by MoS, Home, Nityanand Rai in a written reply to a question by BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe on total arrivals in India on e-visas and the steps taken by the government to ensure that undesirable elements do not enter the country.
“To prevent the entry of undesirable persons in India by using e-Visa facility, there is a screening mechanism which involves checking of antecedents of each and every e-Visa applicant against the database of persons in adverse list,” Rai said.
India suspended issuing visas to foreigners in the wake of the pandemic in March last year and has only partially liberalised it since the opening of the lockdown. Since the pandemic and the standoff in Ladakh, India has further tightened visa norms for those arriving from China.
“Indian Missions are issuing Visa to the foreigners through Immigration, Visa, Foreigners Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) system based on the visa policy laid down by the Central Government. At present, 180 Indian Missions are connected to the IVFRT system. Foreigners applying for Indian Visa are required to apply online on https://indianvisaonline.gov.in. Whenever changes are made in the visa issuance system by the Central Government, these are immediately shared by the Ministry of External Affairs with the Indian Missions abroad. The guidelines are also uploaded on the web portal immediately for use of visa officers in the Missions abroad,” Rai said.
An e-visa or electronic visa is a facility extended by India to foreigners where they can apply for the Indian visa online. On November 27, 2014, the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) facility became operational for citizens of over 40 eligible countries, including those who are eligible for visa on arrival. The list was expanded to 113 countries in August 2015 and has since expanded further. ETA is issued for tourism, visiting friends and family, short duration medical treatment and business visits.
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