Ambassadors rush to Thimphu

Harder Sidhu opens visa office
Harder Sidhu opens visa office. Photo: BBS

This week, diplomats from three major Bhutanese refugee resettling countries travelled to Bhutan to talk with government leaders and the kings.

Bhutan government and the visiting diplomats have kept their lips tight but these visits are likely to have discussed the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees that is coming to an end.

Australian envoy to India Harinder Sidhu and US envoy to India Richard Rahul Verma, both of Indian origin, who are responsible for Bhutan affairs as well, along with British Consul for Bhutan Michael Rutland travelled to Thimphu.

The diplomats while talking to media in Thimphu mentioned about easy visa processing for Bhutanese to travel overseas and monitoring of the bilateral projects. However, they remain silent what they discussed with Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, King Jigme Khesar and King Father Jigme Singye.

These major players in the Core Countries Resettling Bhutanese Refugees have in past repeatedly said the resettlement process would come to an end by 2017. Future of over 8,000 Bhutanese who have not agreed for resettlement is not yet decided.

The primary objective of these diplomats to travel this week to Thimphu was to discuss options with Bhutan about the future of these people.

Australia and UK diplomats also took opportunity to open visa application center in Thimphu making it easy for Bhutanese to apply.

Earlier Bhutanese travelled to New Delhi to apply for a visa for either country as other requirements such as biometric information is required, costing them over Nu 60,000.

Now with the center, a Bhutanese will get an Australian visa for Nu 34,380 of which Nu 27,100 is the visa charge and Nu 7,280 for biometrics, logistics and courier charges.

For the UK, the charges range from Nu 3,150 to 17,010 depending on the duration of stay. If the purpose is for settlement it would cost more than Nu 200,000.

The centre also deals with Schengen visas for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden.

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