LTV or Long-Term Visa holders who make up the minority community of Afghanis, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in India can now register for identity cards like Aadhaar and PAN, purchase properties and hold bank accounts during their stay in India. In a move towards easing the life of Afghani, Bangladeshi and Pakistani minority immigrants (Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs), who have been residing in India for the last two years, the Indian Home Affairs Ministry extended certain benefits. In addition to waiving the requirements of a renunciation certificate with an affidavit, extending the duration of the Long-term visa (LTV) from 2 to 5 years, and providing educational and employment benefits, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced further facilities. In an effort to provide fair opportunities, and comfortable and hassle-free travel to its immigrants visiting India in pursuit of economic activities like work and business, the GOI has extended these facilities for immigrants who have been staying in the country for a period of two years or more.
Immigrant minority communities living across all states in India will further be allowed to be self-employed and avail an Indian driving licence in addition to identity cards like PAN and Aadhaar. There has been further relaxation in the movement of these immigrants from selected regions to free movement across the mainland and its Union Territories via a transfer of the visa from one state to another. The Ministry further reduced the fine on failure to extend Short-term/Long-term visas from $30, $130, and $230 to a meagre Rs.100, Rs. 200 and Rs. 500 along with a permission to extend visas or transfer to LTV category from the present place of residence in cases where the immigrants have changed their location without prior permission from the authorities.
Although the immigration authorities do not have a count of the minority immigrants from countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, officials estimate that roughly 2 lakhs of the minority are from the Sikh and Hindu communities. Cities like Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Delhi, Indore, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Raipur, Kutch, Rajkot, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, and Pune, are home to approximately 400 Hindu refugees of Pakistani origin. With the new government in place since 2014, several measures for handling the influx of refugees to India have been introduced, including issuing LTVs to most refugees.
The Indian Government had allowed minority refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to extend their stay in the country past their visa expiry dates back in September 2015 on humanitarian grounds. This announcement came after the Ministry of Home Affairs had rolled out an online system for accepting LTV applications back in April 2015 which was also accessible to the Indian security agencies.
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