The new visa agreement between India and Maldives, providing a liberal visa policy for Maldivian citizens seeking medical treatment as well as education and business opportunities in India, came into force on March 11, 2019.
The agreement has come into effect after all formalities including information being provided to all immigration offices, border points and customs authorities have been completed. India and Maldives had exchanged diplomatic notes for the implementation of the visa facilitation agreement in February 2019, following the approval by the Union Cabinet.
The main aim behind the move is to boost people-to-people ties between the two countries.
• The new visa agreement provides a very liberal visa regime for Maldivian nationals to visit India for tourism, business, education and medical purposes.
• It also makes it easier for Indians to travel to the Maldives for business purposes.
• Under the agreement, Maldivian businessmen and tourists can stay in India for 90 days without a visa.
• The Maldivians with tourist visas can also stay in India for treatment if they suffer a sudden medical issue.
The agreement was signed during Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih’s visit to India on December 17, 2018. Both the nations had agreed to implement the visa facilitation agreement after completing the required procedures.
President Solih’s government has been strengthening ties with India after its decades-long friendship with India came under strain during former President Abdulla Yameen’s five-year rule, which saw him growing closer to China for various development projects.
Former President Yameen, during his term, had cracked down on dissent, imposing a state of emergency by jailing opposition leaders.
However, since the present government took over in November 2018, there have been several high-level exchanges with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi even attending President Solih’s swearing-in ceremony as his special guest, followed by the Maldivian President’s official state visit to India.
India has also extended 1.4 billion US dollars in the form of budgetary support to fulfill the socio-economic development programmes of the island nation.