Bahrain ready to further relax visa norms

February 18, 2015
Visa regulations to be relaxed in Bahrain

Bahrain is all set to make visas valid for longer period and multiple entry VoA available from the 2nd quarter. According to Shaikh Ahmed bin Isa Al Khalifa who is the assistant under-secretary of NPRA (Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs) said that these visas would hold a validity of four weeks, compared to the earlier duration of two weeks. These could then be renewed for three months’ time. He added that these visas were put forth as per the demands and feedback obtained.

Migrant residents of GCC nations who wish to visit Bahrain over the weekend grumbled about the high visa fee per person, amounting to BD 25. Shaikh Ahmed was of the view that longer validity as well as multiple-entry features would make the visa more cost efficient. This new visa regime has been implemented in a two-fold way, out of which the first phase has already been started in last October. By the time the year ends, there were chances of ‘self-sponsoring’ emigrant residents to obtain visas for their close family members. This would be on self-guarantee basis.

As per Shaikh Ahmed, NPRA is giving self-sponsorship to people who got retired and are working in Bahrain or other GCC nations for not less than 15 years. Also, it has been extended to property owners whose property is worth more than BD 50,000 as well as to international investors who put their money into projects related to trading, medicine, training, industry, tourism and education or even other projects which are recognized. The shares of the foreign investor must be not less than BD 100,000 in value.

An expatriate is eligible for investing in both business and property if they meet the criteria. Visas on arrival have been handed to citizens of 66 nations since the new regime was begun on 1 October 2014. This is inclusive of the US, France, Russia, Japan, the UK, Germany, South Korea, China and many other states from EU and South America. eVisa facility to Bahrain are also given to nationals of 102 countries which include India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Shaikh Ahmed informed that at present, a two-week visa is being handed over to those submitting applications online that can be extended to another 90 days. The agency of the government is intending to clear these applications in a span of three to four days. This step was being taken in a bid to allure more number of investors and travelers to fall in place with the policies of the government. According to him, the policy is based on certain norms while adding countries to the VoA scheme. This takes into consideration frequent visitors, nations that are a part of the G-20 major economies and the investments done in Bahrain.

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