How do you look at the challenges of immigration in Nepal?
The challenges include geopolitical situation, increasing cross border crime, human trafficking, arrival of foreigners and increased number of Nepalis leaving for foreign employment. To address all these issues, we need to enhance the capability of immigration officers working in the international airport.
What steps have you taken?
As our act and regulation are two decades old, a high level committee under the chairmanship of director of the department has been formed to look into what needs to be done. The committee is reviewing the act and regulation. There are 10 offices around the country issuing visa, extension, transfer, issuing travel document, regularization of visa and cancellation of visa. We are also issuing trekking permits in the restricted areas and investigate crimes related to immigration.
What reforms have you made in the immigration process?
We have made a number of reforms. We have already installed 9 more KIOSKs, machines to make online visa application more effective. There is a separate desk for Nepalese who want to go for a visit in the countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Baharain, Jordan and Lebanon, African Countries, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Women who want to visit these countries need to show their guardians before leaving the country.
How do you see the policy of your department regarding the issuance of 'upon arrival' tourist visa?
Our department has been working normally issuing the upon arrival tourists visa to all genuine tourists visiting Nepal. Given the current global trend, we need to be more cautious.
It means you are restricting 'upon arrival' tourist visa?
No. The department is a bit vigilant about miscreants. As there is a problem of refugees in the Middle East, particularly in countries like Libya and Syria and criminal involvement in some African countries, we have issued certain restrictions. Now the issue of immigration is a public issue. As we started a strong vigilance, we have been able to stop trafficking from the airport.
How many Nepalese and foreigners cross the border?
There were a total of 1541605 people, including 954892 Nepalese and 586713 foreigners, who entered Nepal the last fiscal year. A total number of 1638308 left the country, including 1056181 Nepalisand 582, 38,308 foreigners.
What other steps have you taken?
With the request from UNHCR, the cabinet waived the visa fees of 75 urban immigration. Seventy-three Tibetans entered Nepal without visa and passports are allowed to leave for third country India. Ninety-eight Tibetan Refugees registered in Nepal were permitted to leave for third countries. Two hundred thirty six foreigners who overstayed in Nepal over 150 days were permitted to leave. Forty-five foreigners were deported during the period. The department issued permission to 17370 foreigners to visit restricted areas.
How many citizens of foreign country get upon arrival visa?
Except the citizens of Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan and Syria, all others receive upon arrival visa at Immigration points. Nepalese diplomatic missions also issue the tourist visa for foreigners. The department also issues visa for those who enter Nepal from border points without visa. The department also issues visas like Business, non-tourists (Marriage Relation, Working), Residential, study and NRN Visa.
What is the state of Visa?
The Department issued 3178 business visa,1140 marriage visa,460 NRN Visa, 3476 Relation visa, 42 Residential visa, 1911 study visa,151432 tourist visa, 31 transit visa and 1398 working visa.
How many immigration offices are there?
The 11 Immigration offices include Department of Immigration Kathmandu, TIA Immigration office, Kodari, Pokhara, Birgunj, Kakadbhitta, Belhiya, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi, Gaddachauki and Timure Rasuwa. They collected 1.73 billion rupees as revenue.
What plan do you have for future?
In coming year, we are planning to implement Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) and Machine Readable visa system. We are also planning to introduce online application system in issuing visa from diplomatic missions. There will be live photo capture software used in departure and arrival lounges of immigration offices.
It is said that Immigration Department is also giving unnecessary difficulties in issuing working visa. What do you want to say?
In case of necessary papers and documents, we are issuing the visa within a matter of day. For instance, there is the need to have recommendation letters from the ministries concerned.