Britain and US protest after India tightens tourism rules

Tougher visa rules follow arrest in US of Mumbai terror suspect who visited India on multiple-entry visa

Gethin Chamberlain in Delhi
Guardian [UK]
21 December 2009

Britain and the US have lodged a diplomatic protest with India after the government in Delhi introduced rules barring tourists from returning to the country within two months of any visit.

The new visa rules, which also apply to other foreign nationals, are apparently a reaction to the arrest in the US of a Mumbai terror suspect, David Coleman Headley, who had entered India on a multiple-entry visa.

The British high commission in Delhi has urged the Indian government to rethink the policy, which is expected to hit tourists planning to use India as a base for touring the region.

It will also be a blow to thousands of Britons living in India on long-term tourist visas. Many foreigners living in India prefer to use tourist visas rather than go through the complicated process of trying to secure a visa that would grant them the right to residency.

Some apply for six-month tourist visas and then travel to nearby countries, such as Nepal, to renew them. Those on longer-term tourist visas ‑ for five or 10 years ‑ are also required to leave the country every 180 days and tend to fly out for a couple of days before returning. Under the new rules, that would no longer be an option.

Posts on internet travel forums suggest that some British tourists have already fallen foul of the rules and have found themselves stranded and unable to return to India after visiting neighbouring countries.

On the IndiaMike forum one poster, from London, described how he had been renting an apartment in Goa and had travelled to Nepal to apply for a new six-month tourist visa, only to be informed that he would not be allowed back in for two months.

The article continues at the Guardian.

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