Kochi (Kerala) [India], July 11 (ANI): Johnny Paul Pierce's five-month stay in Kerala has been a soul-soothing experience for 74-year-old US citizen. He now wants to spend the rest of his life here.
"Kerala is a beautiful place to live in. This is my fifth trip here. I usually stay here for six months. It is such a magical place to be and I want to share that with people from the US," Pierce told ANI.
He came to India on February 26 on a tourist visa and is staying at Kandanadu in Kochi.
According to Pierce's Advocate, his tourist visa is valid up to January 26, 2025. But on this visa, he can only stay consecutively for 180 days.
The guidelines of the Indian government permit continuous stay for only 180 days for foreigners on tourist visas. His 180 days were set to expire on August 24, which the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) extended to August 30.
The US citizen has approached the Kerala High Court seeking to convert his tourist visa into a business visa. The petition will be considered next week.
Pierce has sought a directive to the government to permit him to apply for the conversion of his tourist visa into a business visa and also to extend his stay, without having to leave the country.
"I am making a petition for an extra 180 days to stay. And I would also like to get a business visa in order to begin a tour company to bring people from the US to Kerala after the coronavirus. I wish my family could also come here. I am very impressed with what's is happening here. People in the US don't care about COVID-19," he said.
He talked about the risk of going back to his home country saying, "There are only 27 deaths in Kerala and in the US there over 1.3 lakh deaths. I do not want to go back to the US. I am 74 years old and I am at risk. This is a very safe place for me. I hope India embraces and allows me to stay."
"There's chaos in the US due to COVID-19 and government is not taking care like India. I want to stay here," he added.
Pierce further talked about his future plans, saying that if he is allowed to stay, he would like to lease a small resort and make a retirement community, which will be a COVID free zone.
Lastly, he made an appeal to the Indian government to let him stay in India saying that "all the immigration rules were made before COVID-19."
"There should be special consideration for people like me," he added. (ANI)