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India eases visa process for Iranians

Posted on December 28, 2015
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India has eased the process of issuing visas to Iranians after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised the same to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the backdrop of easing of Western sanctions against Tehran.

Iran is now out of the restricted prior referral category (PRC) of countries for issuing visas, sources familiar with the development told ET.

In the case of PRC countries, India grants visa only after its mission or consulate in that country runs a thorough background check on the individual applicant. Countries in the PRC list include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and China.

Visas for Chinese tourists have also been eased, officials said.

When Modi met Rouhani in Ufa, Russia, in July days ahead of the historic nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers he had assured that the visa process for Iranians would be eased.

An official said the idea is to bring in a liberalised visa regime for the Iranians.

India had been considering taking this step to enhance economic and strategic relations with Iran.

The Indo-Iran Joint Commission meeting, to be led by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and the Iranian economic minister, in Delhi later this month is expected to give a fillip to economic ties between the two countries.

Iranian officials have earlier told ET that keeping the country in the PRC category was an impediment to fostering relations as both sides are keen to realise untapped potential in trade, investments, connectivity and security.

India and Iranian officials are hopeful of concluding a contract next month for Indian assistance of $100 million for expanding Iran’s Chabahar port after prolonged delay. The two countries are also keen to activate transport corridors (International North-South Transport Corridor and other corridors) to Russia and Central Asia through Iran and explore a trilateral cooperation (India-Oman-Iran).

Besides Indian investment in oil and gas fields in Iran, the two sides are also exploring cooperation in industries such as petrochemicals, steel, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s certificate to Iran this week will help to lift sanctions and open up opportunities for Indian companies in the West Asian country with a young and skilled population and a large consumer base.

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-12-21/news/69212462_1_visa-process-liberalised-visa-regime-prc

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