Kochi: 74-year-old US citizen Johnny Paul Pierce, currently on a tourist visa in Kochi, Kerala has approached the court to convert his tourist visa into a business visa without leaving the country. “I am absolutely safe in Kerala where the entire state has only reported 25 deaths (sic),” Pierce told The New Indian Express. Pierce 's advocate, Saju S Nair has filed a petition in the court and his petition will be heard on Tuesday.
“My aspiration is to show a viable business model and get a five-year business visa. The easiest way to become a resident is to marry an Indian, but I am 74 and probably past that option,” he said. Johnny is planning to set up a center for foreigners and explore the tourism potential in Kerala. “I would recruit residents from the USA. Those who could afford to stay long term are generally the retired folks who are at the risk of contracting the virus in the USA,” says Pierce.
Pierce came to India on February 26 on a tourist visa, which is valid up to January 26, 2025. He is staying at Kandanadu in Ernakulam and, after the lockdown was imposed, he got stranded there. This is his fifth visit to India as a tourist. The guidelines of the Indian government permit continuous stay for only 180 days for foreigners on tourist visas. His 180 days is going to expire on August 24.
The reason for his petition - He cannot apply for a business visa without leaving the country - there is no provision in the current regulations. But as conditions are risky back in the US, with the upward spiral in COVID19 cases, he fees safe in Kerala. “It’s risky to travel to the US at the age of 74. It is chaos there. And I love Kerala. I don’t want to go back and I would like to live here peacefully,” said Pierce.“ Actually, I am a hermit, so I have enjoyed the lockdown because I experience much more meditation. Right now is the time for preparation and establishing more contacts in the hotel industry. I have found that many resorts are up for lease at wonderful prices and I am looking for a resort to lease near Wagamon. I hope to find a place with several rooms that I could establish as a COVID-free zone,” he said.
He said, "Wagamon is perfect because it is not crowded and I love being in a location far from the madding crowd." He also plans to produce a film. “My Indian friend Rajesh has always been with me. Rajesh is a scriptwriter and we have plans to produce a movie. We have been on to at least a dozen movie sets. Since most entertainment is now online and not in theatres, we are making the dialogue much more in English instead of Malayalam to give it a more universal appeal. We have entered the preproduction stage and are about to give a casting call. Our location will be in and around Wagamon,” he said.
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