Monday, November 20, 2006

Armenia Does Not Need Foreigners
[November 20, 2006]

Pankaj Joshi, an Indian citizen, first visited Armenia in December 2003. He received a three-month visa to Armenia at that time, but stayed for exactly one year, remaining in the country illegally for a number of months. “In December 2004, when I decided to go back to India, Aghajanyan at the Passport and Visa Department (OVIR in Russian) asked me for 900 dollars. They then gave me a three-day visa, and I left Armenia with no problem,” narrated Joshi. The stamps in his passport corroborated his story. Samvel Aghajanyan is the deputy head of the Passport and Visa Department within the police structure, and his job deals with granting foreign citizens permission for entry to Armenia.

Joshi came back to Armenia in April 2005. He received a 21-day visa at the airport. After the deadline he received an extension for a further three months without any difficulty. He then managed to further extend his legal permit to stay, this time up to January 2006. Pankaj Joshi had a job offer, and continues to work to this day at the New Delhi restaurant in Yerevan. He holds a contract with George and Brandon ltd., the company that owns the restaurant, and pays his taxes on accordance with Armenian law.

Om Bahadur Khatri, Man Bahadur Sahani, and Yam Lal Kandel, all citizens of Nepal, are also employed by the New Delhi restaurant. These four restaurant employees have been unable to get visas for the past few months and are now staying in Armenia illegally.

“…Their reason for coming to Armenia was to work at the New Delhi restaurant, owned by George and Brandon ltd. On October 21, 2005, a letter was written by Karen Ghevondyan, president of George and Brandon ltd., to the Passport and Visa Department requesting temporary resident status in Armenia for the four foreign citizens mentioned, but this request was rejected,” noted Alvina Zakaryan, head of the Passport and Visa Department, in a written reply to our query.


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