PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia — Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today launched two important initiatives by the Immigration Department, the eVISA and the eVISA Communications Centre (eVCOMM) to facilitate tourist and visitor arrivals without compromising national security.

When launching the key initiatives here today, Najib pointed out that the Immigration Department carried out important responsibilities to ensure the security and sovereignty of the nation was well-guarded and preserved at all times from possible external threats in today’s borderless world.

He also said the immigration services also played a very critical role in welcoming and facilitating the entry of genuine foreign visitors and travelers to Malaysia � from holiday-goers to investors as well as students.

Commenting on the eVISA programme, Najib said it was an online facility which was user-friendly which would enable international tourists and students as well as expatriates to get the visa to Malaysia within 48 hours without having to go to the embassies or consulates as was the previous practiced.

The eVisa programme is not only capable of taking the country to a higher level of security but will also help promote Malaysia as a country which is safer for the people, tourists and business community, he said.

He said the government implemented the eVISA for nationals from China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Serbia and Montenegro in March last year under which they could apply for the eVISA from anywhere in the world.

Commending the Immigration Department’s strategy to set up the eVISA Regional Hub, Najib said through the eight hubs in the programme, it could play an important role in facilitating applications for and approvals of the eVISA.

This initiative will indirectly open up new opportunities which have a wider market, with an estimated more than 100 million diaspora from 10 countries throughout the world who will be given the eVISA facility, he said.

At the event, Najib announced the opening of two more eVISA Regional Hubs, namely in Brasilia, Brazil and Moscow, Russia by the end of this year.

He said the two hubs would facilitate the application for and approval of eVISA applications for people from 10 countries in South America, Eastern Europe and Middle East.

Najib said during his visits to China and India, he received proposals to facilitate the process for the entry of tourists from both these countries into Malaysia.

He added that this led to the Visa-less Programme, which is more commonly known as eNTRI (Electronic Travel Registration and Information) and eVISA (Multiple Entry).

Based on statistics from Tourism Malaysia, he said between March last year and April this year, there was an increase of 284,606 and 323,173 tourists from China who applied for the eVISA and eNTRI.

This year, we are targeting three million tourists from the country of the Great Wall who will visit Malaysia.

At the same time, applications for visas from Indian nationals also increased by 91.1 per cent, from 36,442 which were approved in March last year to 69,635 visas approved in April this year, he said.

On the eVCOMM, Najib said it would allow Immigration officers to monitor, control and use digital technology to ensure that there was proper monitoring of visitors.

He believed that the eVCOMM was a strategic platform that could be leveraged upon by all the various relevant agencies in Malaysia, considered as important links in protecting the safety and sanctity of the country.

“While Malaysia has a long tradition of being a very open and welcoming nation to all genuine visitors, we must balance this openness with the right kind of vigilance and preparedness to protect our security and sovereignty against any disruptive elements or threats, he said.

I am hopeful that the introduction of eVCOMM, state-of-the-art facility will dramatically transform the way the Immigration Department goes about its business and increase its ability to monitor all visa related data from around the world, he added.

Also present at the event were Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also Home Minister, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed, Chief Secretary to the Government Dr Ali Hamsa and Immigration director-general Mustafar Ali.

Meanwhile, Mustafar gave the assurance that the Immigration Department would not neglect the country’s sovereignty and security with the implementation of the eVISA and eVCOMM which facilitated the entry of foreign visitors to Malaysia.

I strongly believe that eVISA dan eVCOMM are crucial towards strengthening our sovereignty and security towards providing new opportunities to the nation, he said.

He added that eVISA programme, with its fee of US$25 initially for tourists, had been extended to include expatriates and international students, beginning Aug 1.