In an apparent response to the David Headley episode, the Indian Government has, for the first time, imposed certain restrictions on American citizens visiting the country.
In the latest advisory from the US Mission in India, the US has informed its citizens that the Government of India has changed its regulations pertaining to the entry of foreign nationals holding a long-term Indian tourist visa.
Essentially, Americans with five or 10-year tourist visas would not be allowed to enter India within two months of their last departure from the country if their last visit was longer than 90 days.
The same norm would apply for long-term visa holders if their stay extends beyond 180 days during the past year.
The restrictions have already been enforced in various ports of entry into India and it would be enforced irrespective of the existing stamp on the tourist’s passport.
There is, however, some reprieve for tourists with short-term visas and for those who haven’t stayed in India for the indicatedperiod. The people under these two criteria would not be affected by the tighter regulations.
Provisions have been made for contingencies. Those who have to come back within the two-month period have to apply for special permission through any Indian High Commission or Consulate. Since the provision is only for emergencies, those who wish to travel for business, employment, education or research would not be allowed.
Approvals though would be given on a case-by-case basis and those given permission to return would have to register with the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office within 14 days of arrival in the country.
The updated regulations and information clearly mentions that tourist visas are intended for recreation, sightseeing and short-term visits with family and friends. The Indian Government has urged foreign visitors to apply for the appropriate visa based on the purpose of travel.
Security concerns arose after the David Headley investigations revealed that he had spent significant time in Mumbai during the five separate visits he made to the city since 2006. The Pakistani-American, Headley, has been charged with criminal conspiracy of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The Indian Government’s tightened entry regulations come as a measure to prevent recurrence of such an event.