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Visa Process To Be Made Smoother For Foreigners: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh

KOCHI: The Central government will ensure the security of the nation while facilitating easier immigration to Indian citizens and foreigners, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Friday.

"The government is committed to strengthen and smoothen the twin processes of immigration and visa. We need to facilitate safe and convenient entry to legitimate travelers. We have to provide all visa-related and consular services to foreigners staying in India in a faster and convenient mode. At the same time, we have to track the movement of foreigners who are already in India," he said while addressing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting on Immigration Visa and Foreigners' Registration and Tracking (IVFRT), at the Ernakulam Guest House on Friday.

The minister said the e-Visa scheme has become very popular among the foreigners. While 5.17 lakh e-visas were issued in 2015, the number increased to 19.01 lakh in 2017. This year, 11.16 lakh e-visas were issued till July 5, he said."The scheme ensures the foreigners do not have to meet any Indian officer before their arrival at the designated airport. The MHA has decided to extend the scope of the scheme by including e-conference and e-medical attendant visa also. In future, the number of e-visas issued by the MHA's Bureau of Immigration (BoI) will overtake the regular visas issued by the Indian Missions abroad," he said.

Steps will be taken to increase the number of departure and arrival counters at major airports and will provide more human resource to the BoI to fast-track the immigration process, he said. The IVFRT project has been implemented in 165 Indian Missions abroad and 91 immigration check-posts. Biometric software has also been installed in 132 Indian Missions. The government launched e-Tourist Visa scheme in 44 countries on November 27, 2014. This facility has now been extended to 165 countries. The government has installed e-Visa processing facilities at 25 airports and five seaports.

The government is planning to extend the e-Visa scheme to more countries with the aim to encourage health tourism and business travel. After the introduction of the e-Visa scheme, 90 per cent of the visas are issued within 48 hours of submission of application, said Rajnath Singh. Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir, Home Secretary Rajeev Gauba and MPs from various states participated in the meeting.

Rajnath Singh to offer prayers at Guruvayur today

Thrissur: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reached Guruvayur on Friday. The city police have beefed up security in connection with his arrival. Rajnath Singh will have darshan at Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple early on Saturday morning for the 'nirmalyam' and will return at 9 am. The city police said traffic regulation would be in effect in Thrissur-Guruvayur route on Saturday morning. The bomb squad and other security team are on the spot. It is the second time the minister is visiting the temple to offer prayers.

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