Muscat: Medical visas for India surged by more than 100 per cent in 2016, data from the Indian embassy in Muscat revealed.
Until the end of 2016, 11,613 medical visas and 8,491 medical attendant visas had been issued by the Indian embassy in Muscat.
In 2015, the embassy issued 5,255 medical visas and 3,902 medical attendant visas. Speaking to the Times of Oman, Indra Mani Pandey, the Indian ambassador to the Sultanate, said: “People travel to India for medical treatment because India has excellent healthcare facilities. Indian doctors are well-known for their competence and experience and the cost of medical treatment in India is much lower when compared with other countries.”
However, the number of tourist visas issued declined during the same period from 83,959 to 72,768 in 2016. However, this reflects only a nominal drop in the total number of visas issued by the embassy during this period, compared with last year.
Indian doctors working in Oman said that for certain treatments, such as those involving oncology, neurology and gastroenterology, the facilities available at hospitals in India are the best and that medics in these fields are highly skilled too. “So, in some cases, which need extra attention, we refer the patients to seek treatment in India,” a doctor said.
To encourage more Omanis to visit India, the government of India announced changes in the existing visa rules for tourism, business and other purposes, recently.
While, an ‘e-tourist visa’ will now be issued for visits aimed at recreation and sight-seeing, an ‘e-business visa’ will be issued for enhancing business activities in India and an ‘e-medical visa’ will be issued for medical treatment in India.
The window for issuing visas under ‘e-visa’ has also been increased from 30 days to 120 days, which means that the applicant can travel to India within 120 days of issuing of the ‘e-visa.’
Similarly, the duration of stay in India under the ‘e-visa’ has also been increased from existing 30 days to 60 days.
In case of the ‘e-medical visa,” an extension can be granted for stay up to six months on a case to case basis by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) concerned.
While under ‘e-tourist visa’ and ‘e-business visa,” foreign nationals will now be allowed to undertake two visits as against the current provision of a single visit, and applicants availing ‘e-medical visa’ will be issued triple entry visas enabling them to visit India three times on the same visa.
In 2016, the Embassy of India in Muscat issued over 95,000 thousand tourist visas and over 900 business visas.