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India has always been Bangladesh’s close friend. Every year, millions of Bangladeshi visitors visit their neighboring country. Every year, a large number of Bangladeshis visit India for tourism, business, and medical services. According to statistics from the ministry of external affairs, the majority of them are Bangladeshis seeking medical care.

Until recently, there were various issues with travel between the two countries. This disruption was caused primarily by the tourist visa. After applying for the visa, one had to wait several months. This time, the Bangladesh government will sign a new deal on travel to India, which will include some additional perks for tourists.

According to figures from India’s Bureau of Immigration, Bangladesh made a significant contribution to India’s tourism economy in 2022, accounting for 20% of all tourists, trailing only the United States. In 2023, India issued over 1.6 lakh visas to Bangladeshis.

Bangladesh plans to make significant changes to its travel agreement with India, emphasizing on increased comfort and flexibility for individuals traveling between the two nations.

The suggested reforms include issuing visas that allow passage through any checkpoint and providing flexibility for long-term medical treatments, such as allowing for several trips.

The previous travel agreement, which was signed on September 1, 1972, and recently revised in January 2013, has expired, forcing Bangladesh to submit a thorough proposal for its renewal. In 1972, a travel agreement was signed between Bangladesh and India. According to this rationale, when someone travels from one nation to another, residents are granted Tourist Visas in several categories. A police officer stands at the checkpoint. Passengers are only allowed to cross the border (international border) when their visa has been checked. This deal has been renewed for a long time. The last renewal was in 2013.

However, as the number of passengers grows, the travelers face increasingly tough challenges. Most Bangladeshis travel here for treatment. That is, they live in an emergency condition. In this case, the Tourist Visa states that the passenger must enter the nation through the same checkpoint from which he or she would exit. It is also said that some passengers require long-term care.

In that instance, according to the rules, passengers cannot change hospitals, even if they go from one nation to another. In such a setting, they must face significant challenges. To overcome these complications, the Bangladesh government is amending many rules in the bilateral travel agreement.

One of the major recommendations is to replace the term “designated check post” in visa papers with “through any check post.” This modification intends to give travelers the freedom to choose their entry and exit points, reducing congestion at specific checkpoints and expediting the travel experience.

Similarly, the idea allows for repeated trips and the opportunity to switch hospitals during long-term medical treatments, reflecting the different demands of people seeking lengthy medical care in either country.

Furthermore, Bangladesh will propose extending the visa-free stay duration for diplomatic and official passports from 45 to 90 days. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already forwarded this suggestion to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Other recommendations include increasing the validity of short-term double-entry visas from three to six months and recognizing river routes as a genuine travel alternative. The addition of river lines follows recent agreements between the two countries to establish river cruises.

For stays longer than six months, the present necessity for clearance from the Foreigner Registration Office or Relevant Authorities can be replaced by online registration for a Residential Permit 14 days before arrival.

Notably, long-term multiple entry visas and long-term employment visas would remain unchanged.

Bangladesh issues a variety of visas to India, including diplomatic and official visas, short-term double-entry visas, long-term multiple-entry tourist visas, medical visas, long-term employment visas, investor or business visas, visas for journalists, visas for research scholars or fellows working in educational or research institutions, student visas, transit visas, and double entry visas.

Most importantly, there is no visa charge for travel to Bangladesh and India. In an emergency, citizens can acquire instant visas for a fee, albeit this option is rarely used.

Bangladesh’s proposed amendments aim to streamline and improve the travel experience for citizens of both nations.

With a substantial influx of Bangladeshi visitors to India each year for education, medical treatment, employment, business, and tourism, these reforms are expected to encourage a more seamless and convenient travel relationship.

Views expressed by the author are their own.

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About Anup Sinha


Anup Sinha is a security and strategic affairs researcher and freelance columnist