08/08/08

From the Indian Express: Visas to Visiting Scholars

Indian missions to bypass MHA, provide visas to visiting scholars
Anubhuti Vishnoi
Posted online: Thursday, August 07, 2008 at 0132 hrs IST
New Delhi, August 6
The Indian missions will now be the interface point for foreign research scholars applying at Indian educational institutes instead of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry. As per directions by the Government, the visa rules for foreign researchers have been revised to enable them to apply directly to Indian missions abroad instead of applying to the HRD Ministry, as has been the case so far. While the move does not mean the application process will be overhauled, it is expected to cut down the waiting time for researchers by 3-4 months with the HRD ministry unable to add to the red tape.
The Indian Express had earlier reported how delays on part of the HRD ministry were keeping foreign scholars waiting for months together. Now, foreigners who desire to undertake research in India should apply to the Indian missions (concerned) abroad with the brief synopsis of the research project to be undertaken in India, the details of places to be visited, previous visits, whether the scholar has secured admission into a recognised or reputed institution and evidence of financial resources, the HRD Ministry has communicated to institutes in the country late last month. So far, universities keen to get any visiting faculty from other nations had to apply atleast three months beforehand with the HRD ministry.
Indian missions abroad will also issue visas to foreigners to attend conferences and workshops that are being organised in India “by a ministry or department of the Government of India, state governments, public sector undertakings, central educational institutions, public funded universities or an organisation owned and controlled by the Government of India or state governments, United Nations or its specialised agencies or a reputed non governmental organisation”.
The step comes as a series of measures co-ordinated by the Ministry of External Affairs with the Home Ministry and the HRD Ministry have been initiated of late to liberalise and simplify the current system for granting visas to international students.
As of now, the HRD Ministry is the nodal ministry in these matters. For instance, in case of US scholars, the ministry gets the visa applications through the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI). It then sends each scholar’s file to Ministry of External Affairs and Home Ministry which, in turn, asks the Intelligence Bureau for clearance. Sometimes, even the Ministry concerned is asked to vet the subject.