4,557 Afghan nationals residing in India on 'stay visa': Nityanand Rai in Parliament
- The Centre had granted a special e-Emergency X-Misc visa to Afghan Sikhs and Hindus seeking asylum in India following the Taliban takeover, which can be converted into a stay visa.
At least 4,557 Afghan nationals are currently residing in India on the ‘stay visa’ after the Indian government extended their special temporary visas keeping in view the evolving situation following the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country, Union minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai informed during Parliament's Winter Session on Wednesday.
In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, the minister said, "In view of the prevailing situation in Afghanistan, the Government of India has started an 'e-Emergency X-Misc visa' for a period of six months for Afghan nationals."
The minister further said, “Stay visa is granted to Afghan nationals staying in India keeping in view the present situation in that country. Presently, 4,557 Afghan nationals are staying in India on Stay Visa after extension of their visas. As on 24.11.2021, 200 e-Emergency X-Misc visas have been issued.”
The statement was issued in reply to a question asked by Nationalist Congress Party MP Vandana Chavan on whether the government “maintains data on refugee foreign nationals residing in India" and "the steps being taken to aid Afghan asylum seekers in India”.
"All foreign nationals (including Asylum seekers) are governed by the provisions contained in the Foreigners Act, 1946, The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and The Citizenship Act, 1955 and rules and orders made thereunder," Rai stated.
He, however, added that the data on foreign nationals “who enter the country without valid travel documents in a surreptitious and clandestine manner, claiming to be refugees or asylum seekers” are not maintained by the government.
As many as 60,000 visa applications of Afghan nationals were brought under consideration after the government launched the special 'e-Emergency X-Misc Visa' to aid the asylum process for those fleeing Afghanistan.
Scores of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus fled the war-torn country and took shelter in India and other countries as the Taliban seized seven provincial capital cities and ousted the Afghanistan government on August 14 this year. Such nationals who are staying in India are being granted a six-month visa which will be later converted into a 'stay visa' with a one-year validity and it can be extended further.