Indian missions asked to give long-term visas to PIOsBy IANS
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
PANAJI - Indian missions have been advised to issue long-term extendable visas, and not short duration tourist visas, to Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) who are keen on visiting India, Eduardo Faleiro, Goa’s commissioner for NRI affairs, said Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference here, Faleiro also appealed to all PIOs to apply for a PIO card that would entitle them to stay in India for a period of 15 years and thus drastically cut down on visa-related hassles.
“I had received several complaints from Goans holding foreign passports that some of our embassies and high commissions issue them tourist visas (valid for three to six months) at the end of which they have to leave the country though they have property matters to deal with and have families here,” Faleiro said.
He said the complaints had spurred an e-mail exchange with union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
“The home minister has assured me in writing that granting of tourist visas to PIOs was not correct and that he was advising missions concerned as well as the foreigners regional registration office in Goa to ensure that long term visas are issued to the said category of persons and these visas are extended from time to time,” said Faleiro, a former minister of state for external affairs.
Faleiro also gave the media a copy of an official letter from Chidambaram, in which the home minister has appealed to all PIOs to apply for the PIO or the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card.
“If they apply for either the PIO or the OCI card, they can stay in India for 15 years (in case of the PIO card) and 30 years (in case of the OCI) card. I would request you to advise them to apply for either the PIO card or the OCI card,” Chidambaram has said in his letter written to Faleiro last month.
The union home minister has also sought a list of missions/embassies and high commissions abroad which are in the habit of issuing tourist visas to PIOs.
The NRI affairs commissionerate in Goa looks after the interests of a large number of Goans who are employed abroad, a majority of whom are concentrated in countries located in the Gulf region.