… DoI officials reprimanded for oversight

Dechen Dolkar 

A group of tourists was denied boarding on Drukair flight from Kathmandu to Paro on March 27 for wrong details in the approved e-visa.

The errors were detected when they were checking in to board the plane. Their e-visa issued by the Department of Immigration (DoI) did not reflect their passport numbers.

The visa application for the group of tourists was submitted by a local Bhutanese tour operator. While submitting the application, the tour operator made an error and instead of submitting the passport number, the operator submitted the ID number reflected in the passport as the passport number.

It was learnt that immediately, the Drukair team in Kathmandu requested the Drukair team in Paro to check the e-visas with the Immigration Office in Paro. However, the Immigration Office in Paro could not locate the e-visas. Then the Drukair team in Kathmandu had to deny them boarding.

Sources said the DoI received the information on the issue on the morning of March 27 and found that the e-visa was approved by the department. The DoI director general immediately asked to facilitate the boarding of the tourists. However, by then the boarding had closed since the flight was due for departure at 8.55am.

Kuensel learnt that the tour operator requested the immigration officer to expedite and issue the visas the same day on March 23 that the tour operator applied since the tourists were due to arrive on March 27. The officer issued the visa on the same day.

Though due diligence on visa issuance protocol was followed, the immigration officer overlooked the wrongfully-submitted details of passports.

Sources said that the tour operator submitted the incorrect details of tourists while submitting the visa application. The Immigration Officer, who was responsible for validating the details of the tourists overlooked while approving and issuing the visa.

It was learnt that the department has verbally reprimanded the officer for this oversight.

The coordinating immigration inspector at the Paro International Airport did not cross-check the issue with the Visa Division in Thimphu before communicating back to the Drukair team in Kathmandu. The official was also verbally reprimanded.  Further, the Immigration Office at the Paro International Airport was told to always contact the visa division, Thimphu immediately to verify visas in such situations to avoid such issues in future.