Guwahati, Monday, December 30, 2019
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Visa norms relaxed for certain categories of foreigners
R Dutta Choudhury
 GUWAHATI, Dec 29 - Even before the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Parliament, the Government of India had relaxed the long term visa norms for certain categories of foreigners to make their stay easy in India.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, in short CAA, will pave the way for providing Indian citizenship to persons belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who came to India before December 31, 2014.

But the persons belonging to those communities coming to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are also eligible for getting long term visa to stay in India and even before the CAA, the government had relaxed the norms of such visa.

To facilitate stay of those categories of people in India, the penalty for non-extension of both short and long term visa has also been reduced drastically. The penalty for non-extension of visa for a period of overstay up to 90 days was 30 American dollars, which is around Rs 2,130, but it has now been reduced to only Rs 100.

Similarly, the penalty for overstay without extension of visa for a period of 91 days to two years was 130 American dollars, that is around Rs 9,230, but that has been reduced to Rs 200. The penalty for overstay of more than two years without extension of visa was 230 American dollars, that is around Rs 16,300, but that has been reduced to only Rs 500.

The persons who are granted long term visa are allowed to open bank accounts without prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Such persons are permitted to purchase a small dwelling unit sufficient to serve the needs of the individual or family for self use and suitable accommodation for carrying out self- employment without prior approval of the RBI.

However, they will not be allowed to purchase immovable property in and around restricted/protected areas, including cantonment areas. The people living in India on long term visa will also be eligible for obtaining PAN card and Aadhaar card and the visa document will be accepted as address proof.

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