Indian High Commission in Male’ states Maldivian nationals will not require a visa for travel to India, starting October 15.
With the decision, Maldivian who travel to India for medical, business and tourism purposes can stay in the country for up to 90 days without requiring a visa.
Indian High Commission said the decision will make Maldives the first beneficiary of visa free travel to India since the country imposed travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year.
“The exemption in case of Maldivian nationals has been granted in view of the high demand for medical visas in the last 3-4 months and the special relations that exists between our two countries,” said the High Commission in a statement announcing the decision.
Indian High Commission said it believes the humanitarian gesture will serve to reinforce people-to-people relations between Maldives and India.
The decision restores the visa-free agreement signed by Maldives and India in December 2018.
The announcement comes less than a day after Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid expressed confidence the difficulties in getting medical visa to India will be resolved soon, following widespread complaints over having to wait in long queues outside the Indian High Commission in Male’ to submit medical visa applications.
Though India closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maldives and India made special arrangements in June last year to allow Maldivian nationals to travel to the country for medical services.
Over 14,000 Maldivian nationals have travelled to India for medical purposes during the pandemic under the special arrangement.