Govt set to introduce new visa regime to curb crime
In an attempt to discourage foreign criminals from using Nepal as a transit point to sneak into a third country and also as a haven for refuges, the Department of Immigration (DoI) is set to introduce a new visa regime for foreign nationals.
“We had started granting a 90-day visa on arrival to promote tourism but the provision now needs to be reviewed and we are in talks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to amend it,” said Suresh Adhikari, director general of the DoI.
The new visa regime that will soon come into effect is likely to change existing visa regulations and citizens of more countries might not get visa on arrival, according Adhikari. As of now, residents of all countries, excepting 11, can avail of a three-month visa on arrival.
The countries exempted from the arrival visa are Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan.
According to him, people visiting Nepal for trekking, expedition or mountaineering purposes will continue to get an arrival visa for 90 days, but those who come here for a visit will get arrival visa for 30 days.
As per the new proposal, citizens of China, the United States and the European Union will be given priority in the new visa regime as these countries send thousands of tourists to Nepal annually.
“We need to review the visa regime on a reciprocal basis,” said Adhikari.
The 90-day on arrival visa provision has invited serious problems including a rise in urban refugees, the prospect of Nepal being used as a transit point for those seeking to sneak into other countries and a rise in drug and narcotics smuggling. Similarly, the DoI is also planning to introduce regulations to curb the number of Nepali females going to the Gulf on tourist visas for work where chances of abuse and exploitation are high.
“Not a single female who has obtained a tourist visa to Gulf countries has produced an original visa stamp. All they have is a photocopy of the visa, which is clearly an indication of exploitation. Later, the photocopy is translated into a professional visa once they reached their destination. We are going to curb such malpractice as the DoI is often dragged into it,” said Adhikari.
However, as the DoI does not have facilities to check visas stamped online, its offices are compelled to allow those with such stamps to travel abroad to risky jobs.
To curb such fraud and anomalies, the DoI had prepared a financial proposal to revamp and reform the information sector, bring changes to the immigration desk and train its manpower. “But unfortunately, the Ministry of Finance rejected our proposal,” said Adhikari. The Rs 80 million-proposal had three components—networking of various entry points with the DoI, training manpower and upgrading infrastructure.
“Now, the International Organisation of Migration has expressed its desire to support us,”