India has tightened visa rules for Maldivian nationals in what appears to be a tit-for-tat for Male’s highly restrictive visa regime for Indians and the alleged ill-treatment of Indian workers there.
Last week, Express had first reported that the Indian High Commission in the Maldives warned of a longer processing time for visas and pointed out that visa-on-arrival will be restricted to tourism purposes.
While the High Commission’s notice had ascribed “technical reasons” to this new policy, the rules came into effect at a time when the bilateral ties are at an all-time low, thanks to the Maldives’ “unilateral” scrapping of the $511 million airport deal with Indian infrastructure giant GMR.
While India had very liberal visa policies for Maldivian nationals so far, official sources pointed out, the same was not true for Indians going to the Maldives.
“We had been given all visas without charging any fee, but not only do the Maldivians charge the visa fee, they also levy $1000 for a single day’s delay in the lapse of the visa,” a senior government official said.
India has not charged any penalty on Malidivan nationals for overstay so far. New Delhi had given visa-on-arrival to all Maldivians, irrespective of the purpose of their visits. “For Indians, the Maldives had restricted visa-on- arrival for tourism purposes and only to those who had a return ticket and $100 in currency,” he added. As per this rule, the Maldives deports nearly 40-50 Indian nationals every year.
There had also been lots of reports of Maldivian employers, including government entities, keeping the passport of their Indian workers without any legal sanction.
“Recently, two Indian nurses had to miss their wedding dates as their employers were not releasing their passports,” he said.