* If a child from Maldives is being educated in India, his/ her entire family will get dependent visas.
* For Indian professionals applying for employment visa in the island country, the employers will pay the fees and will get the paperwork done within 15 days.
These are part of the visa liberalisation between India and Maldives, which will come into effect from March 11. Officials from both countries exchanged “diplomatic notes” for implementation of the visa facilitation agreement, signed during Maldives President Ibrahim Solih’s visit to India on December 17 last year.
For Maldives, India is a preferred destination for education, medical treatment, recreation and business. The number of Maldivians seeking long term visas for pursuing higher studies and medical treatment has shown a sharp increase over the last two years.
Sources said that many send their children to study in India, mostly in and around Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru. Earlier, parents who wanted to stay in these places while their children studied could not do so, since India did not grant them dependent visas. This meant that parents would have to come on a tourist visa, return to Maldives before the 90-day period expired, and then apply for visas again.
“Now, they will be given dependent visas and can stay here for the duration of the child’s education. The dependent visa can be availed not only by parents, but also siblings of the child and grandparents as well,” said a source.
Easing visa rules for those travelling to India was one of the poll promises made by Maldives President Ibu Solih. While India is a favoured destination for Maldives, Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the island country. The visa liberalisation, if implemented in letter and spirit, will build bridges by encouraging people-to-people exchanges.
Similarly, those seeking medical consultation in India would earlier come on a tourist visa-on-arrival. If, after consulting a doctor, they needed to stay back for medical treatment, they could not convert these tourist visas into medical visas. So, they would go back to Maldives and re-apply for medical visas. “Now, that conversion has been allowed in India, and they can bring attendants as well,” said the source.
For Indian professionals and workers, their work permits or employment visas were not getting cleared on a regular basis earlier. “Now, with the liberalisation, the prospective employer in Maldives will have to do the paperwork, pay the fees and it will be done in 15 days, either way. The Indian professionals won’t have to pay the fees here and wait indefinitely for the permit. The Maldives authorities will take a decision within 15 days,” said the source.
Earlier, Indian businessmen had to apply for separate business visas, for which they needed letters of invitation from a businessman in Maldives. “Now, they can go and do business on the visa-on-arrival in Maldives,” the source said.
Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the Maldives, numbering about 22,000.