18 September 2008

India next in line for electronic passport programme

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India has announced it will be using a digital security company to supply electronic passports for Indian nationals.

The introduction of e-passports in India is an extra measure taken by the government to improve border security and immigration processing times.  The new passports will hold biometric information as well as the communications antenna.  Immigration India will be releasing a first round of passports that will be reserved for Indian diplomats and government officials, and then after a period of review it will be released to Indian citizens.

The Indian government is also trying other ways to improve the immigration service and speed up Indian visa processing services.  India’s Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni announced earlier this month that visa services will now be outsourced in response to growing numbers of people wanting to apply for an Indian tourist visa, reports SindhToday.net, and it is hoped the outsourcing will prevent delays in the visa application process.

"My vision is that within 48 hours, anyone wanting to visit India must get a visa. Since 2006 there has been a focus on India, resulting in us developing new tourism products, making it more exciting for both types of travellers - the backpacker and the higher end tourist," Soni told reporters.

The Minister said an increasing amount of tourists are visiting India for religious reasons, visiting family, or wanting to experience rural tourism, shopping tourism and Ayurvedic tourism.  "For the West Asian market, we are even developing monsoon tourism, so we are promoting India as a 365 days tourism destination," added Soni.

The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in India visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, Worldwide Visa Bureau.

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