New visa rules thrill cross-border couples

For years many Indian-Pakistani couples in the UAE have been unable to travel to each other's countries because of strict visa rules. But a landmark agreement is about to change that

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Senior citizens and children below 12 will now getvisa on arrival at Wagah-Attari, the only road border crossing between India and Pakistan

Dubai: India and Pakistan are to finalise a landmark agreement on Thursday to ease visa rules for people from the two countries. Expected to come into force in August, the new rules will bene-fit hundreds of cross-border couples in the UAE.

Indian media reports said the breakthrough agreement, being signed in Islamabad, will allow India and Pakistan to issue group tourist visas for citizens and multiple-entry visas for families of individuals with spouses from the other country. One-year visas will be issued to businessmen while visas on arrival will be given to senior citizens and children under 12 at Wagah-Attari.

They said the group tourist visas will be valid for 30 days and the visas on arrival for 45 days. The multiple-entry visas for families will be valid for two years.

Group tourist visas will be given to groups of 10-50 persons to undertake tours arranged by approved travel agents who will be responsible for police-related formalities. School and college students will also be able to visit each other's countries in this category.

In the case of multiple entry visas for families of those married to individuals from the other country, one person can report to the police for every family. Those getting visas on arrival need not report to the police.

Media reports said businessmen will be entitled to one-year visas under two categories. Depending on their turnover, the visas would be multiple-entry or restricted to four visits.

The number of places they can visit will vary accordingly from 10 to 4. They can send a representative to report to the police.

The new rules have been widely welcomed by cross-border couples in the UAE.

"This is great news," said Zubair Farooqui, a Dubai-based Indian who is married to a Pakistani. Forget their families, even they haven't visited each other's countries in their five years of marriage.

"The last time I applied for a visa to Pakistan was when I wanted to attend my brother-in-law's marriage. But I couldn't make it as I got the visa two weeks after the event," he said.

But the days of long waits, undue formalities and uncertainties could soon be over. The new rules are expected to come into force in August.

"I've always wanted to go to India but I've dreaded it because of the formalities," said Floyd Barrell, an event manager from Karachi who works in Dubai.

The 33-year-old said his wife is from Mangalore in the south of India and hasn't been to his native place either.

"We look forward to the rules being relaxed so that we can travel more easily," he said.

Another Dubai-based Pakistani who is married to an Indian, who did not want to be named, said: "We live in 2012 when communication has opened up and the world has become a smaller place. People in India and Pakistan are the same, it's just the politics that separates them. I am so happy that people-to-people ties are now getting their due and we will be able move freely and in a friendly manner across the border. Families can meet and children can spend time with their grandparents."


  • Usman

    24-May-2012 12:23

    Pak India Friendship Zindabad !!

  • Huzefa

    24-May-2012 12:00

    This is a super news, i which this comes into force permenantly & we will get visa easily, this will going to save alot of headaches. Great news .

  • Rajesh

    24-May-2012 11:55

    Its really good news

  • AF

    24-May-2012 11:49

    This is great news for me and my family. I am an Indian, married to a Pakistani national and our kids are Indian pasport holders. I have managed to travel to Pak once but in 12 years of marriage, we have always been reluntant to even apply for a Indian visa. With the new arrangement, we can freely travel to our respective countries at any time. I am really happy with this change.

  • Muhammad Shakeel Khan

    24-May-2012 11:44

    Indeed it's a right step towards a right direction. Now both the neighbors have to consider cuts in defense budgets and enhance spending on provision of healthcare facilities, education, economic development, easy access to justice and good governance. People of both countries deserve it all.

  • Abdul Aziz Jan

    24-May-2012 11:38

    My mom has filled all the forms and requirement of Indian consulate but the consulate is not providing the Visa as her Mom she is from India all her family is from India.I cant understand it. you people are saying here something and inside the consulate another thing.

  • Asha

    24-May-2012 10:33

    I am very much happy to read about that visa for pakistani nationals to get visa with some ease rule, specially my sister who is married to an India boy.

  • Muhammad

    24-May-2012 10:32

    Arrangement should be made at all international airports in both countries for visa processing . So that people could take a direct flight from abroad- At present I can't travel direct to Lucknow- I must take a route via Bombay or Delhi, which is cumbersome and expensive-

  • Ahmed

    24-May-2012 10:17

    Been my dream to travel to India, I wish it becomes a reality soon to cross the border

  • Umnaz

    24-May-2012 09:31

    Really glad to hear about this news. I am married to a Pakistani and I have been trying for my husband visa to visit my native. After our wedding, I have not visited my parents too, as I was waiting to go along with my husband. I hope this agreement will ease our travelling and my inlaws can travel to my home as well.

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