India liberalizes Business/Tourist visa rules for Russian nationals

India took a lead in resolving the vexed visa issue by liberalising its rules for the Russian citizens visiting India on business and tourism.

“We are now issuing multi-entry business visas valid for one year against six months single or double entry in the past and tourist visas valid for six months with multiple entries,” India’s Ambassador to Russia Ajai Malhotra has said.The Embassy of India in Moscow has streamlined and liberalised its issuance of business and tourist visas with a view to further encourage business contacts and promote tourism between India and Russia.

India and the Russian Federation already have in place a visa-free regime for diplomatic and official passport holders of both countries, that facilitates regular official contact. Both business and tourist visas would normally be issued in three working days following the date of application against minimum ten working days previously.

The new pattern is also being followed by the Indian Consulates General in St Petersburg and Vladivostok. The Russian citizens normally have to apply for the Indian visa by a Russian company appointed by the Indian mission to allow them to submit their applications even on weekends and holidays, when the Embassy is closed.

Ambassador Malhotra said these measures to facilitate the travel by Russian businessmen and tourists to India were actually implemented from June 12, Russia’s national day. According to him, the Indian Embassy in Moscow and the Consulates in St Petersburg and Vladivostok had issued about 110,000 visas to Russian citizens during 2010.

“I expect this number to increase by about 25 per cent this year”, Malhotra said.

Tourist flows from Russia to India have picked up in recent years, with Goa, New Delhi- Agra- Jaipur Golden Triangle, Mumbai and Kulu-Manali emerging as major attractions. According to a recent report issued by the State Statistics Committee last year 12 million Russians visited foreign countries.