Maldives, India start negotiations over visa issue

Tourists pictured at an Immigration counter at Velana International Airport. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

The governments of Maldives and India have started discussions over claims by some Indian officials Maldives is denying work visas for Indian nationals.

Indian newspaper, The Hindu reports diplomats from Maldives and India are currently holding discussions to resolve the issue.

According to The Hindu, both sides have met for two rounds of discussions since last Thursday.

The newspaper reports the Minister of External Affairs of India, Sushma Swaraj has reached out to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives, Dr. Mohamed Asim for clarity in the matter.

Maldivian Ambassador to India, Ahmed Mohamed confirmed the visa issue has been raised with the Embassy by the Ministry of External Affairs of India, and said the issue is now under discussion by the two governments.

Meanwhile, Maldives Immigration has denied any discrimination or constraints in issuance of work visas to Indian citizens. The authority said has granted work visas to 2,621 Indian nationals so far this year. And that holding work visas due to any issues that may arise is not specific to any nationality, but dependent on individual cases.

A number of Indian officials have claimed constraints on work visas for Indian nationals by Maldives including Chief Minister of State for Kerala, India, Pinarayi Vijayan.

In the letter addressed to Minister Swaraj, Vijayan said Indian nationals were being denied work visas from Maldives, noting that more than 30,000 Indian nationals work in health, education and tourism industry of Maldives, most of them from Kerala.