India is working on a proposal for Visa on Arrival (VoA) facility for US tourists, one of the big-ticket announcements expected to be made during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-profile visit to the US beginning September 26.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is working overtime to finish the work on the VoA proposal to finalise it in time for the Prime Minister’s visit, according to government sources.
MHA in consultation with the Tourism ministry is working on the Tourist VoA under which visa can be granted to US citizens who do not have a residence or occupation in India and whose sole objective of visiting India would be recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives, etc, the sources said.
Under the new proposal, which is still being worked out, the stay limit is expected to be 30 days.
Initially, in January 2010 TvoA scheme was introduced for citizens of five countries and now, the facility is available for citizens of 11 countries –Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia and South Korea.
However, even despite being strategic partners, there is no TVoA facility for the citizens of India and the US in each other’s country. As per some estimates, the annual flow of US tourists stand around 10 lakh, currently.
The Prime Minister will be on a five-day visit to the US during which he will address the UN General Assembly in New York and then travel to Washington where he would holdbilateral talks with US President Barack Obama, who invited Modi for a meeting during a call to wish him on his victory in the Lok Sabha polls nearly four months ago.
Obama will host a dinner for Modi on his arrival in Washington on September 29 from New York. Significantly, the US President’s dinner meet is not a usual practice and is normally accorded to foreign visitors on state visits.
The dinner meeting would be the first opportunity for Modi and Obama to interact with each other and will set the stage for the summit meeting on September 30.
Vice-President Joe Biden will host a working lunch for Modi on September 30 after which the Prime Minister is scheduled to attend a business event before leaving for India.
Modi’s visit, which is taking place at a time when ties between New Delhi and Washington have cooled somewhat over the arrest and stripsearch of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York late last year in an alleged visa fraud case, will provide an opportunity to the two sides to strengthen ties and focus on strategic areas of economic, defence, civil nuclear cooperation and trade and technology.