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Kazakhstan Pushes Ahead With Visa Reforms, Waives Visa Requirements For 57 Countries

By Gaukhar Erubaeva October 2, 2019

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Kazakhstan has been, for a few years now, implementing what officials describe as a long-term development program to develop tourism infrastructure and attract foreign nationals from around the globe.

The government of Kazakhstan on Monday waived visa requirements for visitors from another 12 countries, a measure that is meant to boost foreign tourism to the Caspian and Central Asian country and make it a more attractive place for cross-border investment.

As of September 30, visitors from Bahrain, The Holy See (the Vatican), Vietnam, Indonesia, Qatar, Columbia, Kuwait, Lichtenstein, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and the Philippines are also allowed to stay in what is Central Asia’s largest country for up to 30 days without having to register with local authorities.

Officials in Nur-Sultan say the initiative will positively affect both political, economic and investment relations with these countries.

“Visa cancellation is aimed at increasing the number of foreign investors, businessmen and tourists,” said Aibek Smadiyarov, a spokesperson for Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry, according to a report by Eurasia Daily. “Simplification of the visa regime will contribute to creating a favorable investment climate in Kazakhstan.”

The list of countries granted unilateral visa exemptions to visit Kazakhstan now totals 57.

According to government data, the total gross inflow of foreign direct investment into Kazakhstan amounted to more than $320 billion ever since Kazakhstan became independent in 1991. The most active cross-border investors are from the Netherlands, the United States, Switzerland, Russia and China.

Investors from 12 countries that are not required to obtain a visa prior to visit Kazakhstan since September have invested over $900 million in the economy within the same period. Oman ($253 million), Indonesia ($216 million), and Lichtenstein ($170 million) topped the list.

“Kazakhstan and the above-mentioned countries have been effectively cooperating in multilateral and bilateral formats, closely coordinating their actions to resolve latest challenges,” said Smadiyarov.

Kazakhstan has been, for a few years now, implementing what officials describe as a long-term development program to develop tourism infrastructure and attract foreign nationals from around the globe.

From the start of 2017, Kazakhstani authorities launched an initiative that resulted in a unilateral visa exemption for visitors from 45 countries, including the United States, European Union member states, Australia and Canada. In addition, Kazakhstan has inked bilateral agreements with 16 other countries that allow their citizens to stay in Kazakhstan anywhere from just two weeks to 90 days without requiring a visa. Russians, for example, can remain in Kazakhstan for nearly three months while South Koreans can stay for up to a month.

At the same time, citizens residing in 140 countries, including citizens of China, India, Iran and other Persian Gulf countries, can apply for an e-visa for tourism, business and medical treatment purposes. Approval takes about five business days, which results in a printable visa that the applicant carries along with his or her passport to the port of entry in Kazakhstan. Foreigners who have an electronic visa are exempted from registration with the migration service authorities.

Meanwhile, government officials in Nur-Sultan are working to ease visiting other countries for Kazakhstan’s citizens, the foreign ministry’s spokesperson said Monday.

Currently, citizens of Kazakhstan can visit 30 countries without a visa. The list of these countries includes neighboring Azerbaijan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.