Christians from Pakistan are now eligible for long-term Indian visas which could also later render them a permanent resident status.
An order for including Christians and Buddhists in the list of minority communities in Pakistan eligible for long-term Indian visas was issued earlier this month.
The Home Ministry announced the decision following a request from the office of the commissioner for NRI affairs in Goa.
Goa commissioner for NRI affairs Eduardo Faleiro's reportedly requested to include Christians in the list following requests from a number of Pakistani nationals of Goan origin who wished to return to Goa and acquire Indian citizenship.
The list apparently was earlier limited to only Hindus and Sikhs.
The grant of visa to Pak nationals visiting India is governed by the Indo-Pak visa agreement 1974, which provides for the issue of only short-term visas, according to a report by the Times of India.
While Hindus and Sikhs were able to get long-term visas, Christians of Goan origin were denied the privilege.
In a letter to the Home Ministry, Faleiro informed the Centre that many Goans, especially Christians had migrated to Pakistan before Independence in search of jobs.
"Christians constitute a significant minority community in Pakistan. The minister for minority communities who was recently assassinated in Islamabad was himself a Christian," Falerio was quoted as saying in his letter.
"May I request you to kindly include Christians in addition to Hindus and Sikhs as members of the minority communities in Pakistan for the purpose of long-term visa," he pleaded.
Long-term visas for Christians from Pakistan
Published 31 August 2011 | George Anthony