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Medical visa makes debut

New Delhi, July 8: Convinced of the dollar-earning potential of the healthcare business, the government has introduced the medical visa.

According to advisories sent to embassies abroad, this visa will be available to all foreign nationals, including those from Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, seeking medical treatment in reputed or recognised hospitals.

The visa will allow one year of uninterrupted stay which is extendable. The patients will be required to get themselves registered in a hospital or treatment centre within 14 days of arrival.

“After one year, the patients would be able to get another extension of one year by the foreign regional registration offices (FRROs) or state governments where the superintendent of police has been given the designated powers of the FRRO,” said a home ministry official.

Patients will have to seek permission from the ministry if they require to extend their stay for a third consecutive year.

Vast changes have been made to student visa rules, too. Foreign students will be allowed to pursue any course without restriction, except if they are from Pakistan, China and Bangladesh.

“We have removed all restrictions on the number of courses foreign students want to pursue. This has been done to help them finish their full education in one go without seeking visa again after finishing one course,” the ministry official said.

Now, they will only be required to seek permission from the local FRRO to stay on to pursue another course.

Under the medical visa rules, patients will have the facility to bring two attendants ' spouse and blood relations. They will be allowed two entries in a year which means patients can change attendants.

Visas can be issued for neuro-surgery, ophthalmic care, heart problems, organ transplants, congenital diseases, gene therapy, plastic surgery, joint replacement and renal diseases.

These are broad categories and embassies will enjoy discretion.

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