Need a visa for India?General Shalu Pillai
All visitors planning a trip to India will require a visa, except citizens of Nepal and Bhutan. In a bid to boost visitor arrivals, the Indian government now offers 30-day, single entry e-Tourist visas (eTV) for citizens of 150 countries. Visitors from all other countries must apply for their visa beforehand. Many Indian embassies have outsourced the visa processing to third party companies, so check with your nearest Indian embassy or consulate. In the USA, visa applications must be submitted to Cox & Kings Global Services, not the embassy.
Visa fees tend to vary depending on the nationality or duration of the visa. For a full exhaustive list, click here.
So, what are the popular visa categories to visit India?
For visitors staying in India for less than 72 hours, a Transit Visa (a confirmed airline booking of your return journey must be provided) is sufficient.
For stays over 72 hours, visitors can apply for an Indian Tourist Visa. Tourist visas are generally issued for six months, depending on what nationality you are. Some countries issue visas for shorter durations such as three months, and longer durations such as one year. Visitors from the US can obtain 10-year visas and residents of France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Vietnam can obtain 5-year visas.
However, irrespective of the duration of your Tourist Visa, visitors are not allowed to remain in India for more than 6 months (180 days) at a time. The above mentioned five-year Tourist Visa allows stays of up to 3 months (90 days) at a time.
The mandatory two-month gap required between visits to India on Tourist visas has now been removed.
Visitors can obtain an e-Tourist Visa by submitting an application online at indianvisaonline.gov.in, at least five days and not over 30 days before their date of travel. The visa is applicable to travelers whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sight-seeing, visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit. The e-TV scheme, previously known as Tourist Visa on Arrival is now available at 16 airports across the country including New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Goa, Varanasi, Gaya, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Tiruchirappalli, Jaipur and Lucknow.
Top wellness activities including “attending a short-term Yoga program” and “short-duration medical treatments under Indian Systems of Medicine” are two of the permissible activities under the e-TV.
The e-TV facility is available to passport holders from the following countries : Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Island, Chile, China, China- SAR Hongkong, China- SAR Macau, Colombia, Comoros, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d'lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Island, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The e-Tourist Visa (eTV) is allowed for a maximum of two visits in a calendar year and once issued on arrival is valid only for a single entry. The visa is non-extendable and non-convertible.
Medical visas are provided to those seeing medical treatment at recognized hospitals and treatment centers across the country. The nature of the treatments has to be significant in nature, for e.g.: neurosurgery, heart surgery, organ transplant, ophthalmic disorders, congenital disorders, gene therapy, joint replacement, and plastic surgery etc. Up to two Medical Attendant Visas will be issued for immediate family members who plan to accompany the patient.
The duration of the visa is usually up to one year or the period of treatment, whichever is less. The visa is also valid for 3 entries, during the year.
Student visas are given to those looking to come to India and study at an officially recognized educational institution. This includes Yoga schools, schools of Vedic culture and Indian system of dance and music. They are required to submit admission/registration papers from their institution of practice. The student visas are issued for up to five years, depending on the duration of the course and can be extended.
If you are looking to explore business opportunities or conduct business in India, you need a Business Visa. Applicants will have to submit a letter from the organization they intend to do business with, stating the nature of the business, duration of stay, places to be visited, and intention to meet expenses.
Business visas are valid for six months or more and allow multiple entries. However, holders cannot stay in India for more than six months at a time.