With the number of e-visas issued by India going up nearly four-fold between 2015 and 2017, the number of e-visas issued by the Bureau of Immigration will overtake the number of regular visas issued by all Indian missions abroad within a few years, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Friday.
Singh, who was in Kochi to take part in the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Parliamentary consultative committee meeting on Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration & Tracking (IVFRT), said the Centre is committed to strengthen and smoothen the processes of immigration and visa.
The Home Ministry, he said, has decided to enhance the e-visa scheme by including e-conference and e-medical attendant visa as well. Explaining popularity of the scheme among foreign travellers to India, Singh said 5,17,417 e-visas were issued in 2015, which went up to 19,01,309 in 2017. In the current year, 11,16,985 e-visas have already been issued until July 5, he added.
Under the e-visa scheme, foreigners do not have to meet any Indian official before their arrival at the landing port.
The e-tourist visa scheme, launched in 44 countries in 2014, has been extended to 165 countries. The e-visa facilities are available at 25 airports and five seaports in the country at present, and will be extended to more countries in consultation with all stakeholders, he said.
Singh also said that while facilitating easier immigration, the security aspect also needs to be taken into consideration, and that there is a need to track movement of foreigners present in the country. “We need to facilitate safe and convenient entry to the country to legitimate international travellers. We also need to provide all visa-related and consular services to foreigners staying in India in a faster and convenient mode,” he said.
Singh said the number of departure and arrival counters will be increased at all major airports and the staff strength of the Bureau of Immigration will be raised to speed up the immigration process.