Indian Ambassador to the Maldives Sunjay Sudhir said obtaining Indian medical visas for Maldivians is easier than described.
In an exclusive interview with Mihaaru news last week, Sudhir said that according to an agreement between the two nations, Maldivians were able to enter India before without any prior visas. He said the world was not the same as it was before the pandemic, and even when the world suffered multiple travel bans, India ensured that Maldivians could enter their country.
“People say, and I’ve seen this on social media, ‘Why isn’t there E-VISA service for the Maldives? »In fact, the E-VISA installation is [available] for so many countries in the world from India’s point of view. But for the Maldives, there is a much higher facility than E-VISA. Which is not a VISA, ”Sudhir said.
“India has this VISA-free policy, this VISA-free policy probably with three countries; Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives. “
He said India issued VISAs to more than 13,000 Maldivians after initially closing their border following the coronavirus pandemic.
Photos showing people queuing outside the Indian High Commission have circulated on social media. People who criticize India-Maldives relations often cite the slowness of the VISA issuance process as one of the main issues.
Sudhir said the Indian High Commission actually arranged an easy way to get VISAs for Maldivians. Applications are made online, then the High Commission will also inform the VISA applicant of their appointment.
“Every day we issue something like 100 VISA, and the number is increasing.”
VISAs are issued in a timely manner to ensure the 100 people do not queue outside, he said.
… people will have a date and a time [after they complete their online application], ‘on this day, come.’ What we have done is once again to rationalize it further, we have given time slots of one hour. So 10 to 11, 11 to 12, ”Sudhir said.
Either way, people are lining up outside earlier than their appointed time. He said they had to wait outside as the Indian High Commission has to comply with COVID regulations set by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and also due to space constraints as their building is small.
He said that while it may take some time to get an appointment with the Indian High Commission, it is only due to the high demand. This is due to the lack of entry without VISA, whereas previously Maldivians could enter without VISA. However, he reiterated that once the appointment with the high commission is over, the VISA is issued within 24 hours.