How to Apply for a Visa for India
Visitors to India must obtain a travel visa before visiting. While citizens of some countries must obtain a visa from an Indian diplomatic mission, most country’s citizens may obtain a visa on arrival or an e-Visa online.
Citizens of Nepal and Bhutan do not require visas or passports to enter India, unless arriving from mainland China, and may remain in the country indefinitely. Citizens of these countries may also live and work freely in India.
- Visitors to India can either apply for a regular visa or an e-Visa.
- Passport holders of 166 countries are eligible for an e-Visa.
- Citizens of the Maldives do not require visas to enter India for up to 90 days.
- Foreign citizens possessing an Overseas Citizen of India card or a Person of Indian Origin card are exempt from visa requirements.
- On the 27th of November 2014, the Electronic Travel Authorization facility became operational for citizens of over 40 eligible countries.
Types of Indian Visa
Citizens of almost all countries require a visa to explore the beauty of India. In some countries, getting a visa can be difficult, but Indian visas are easily accessible if applied for in the right manner. Below are some common visas used by visitors to India.
Indian Transit Visa
This is a short-term visa for those visiting or staying in India for less than 72 hours. When applying for a transit visa, you must show a confirmed airline booking for the onward journey. The visa is valid within 15 days of the date of issue, for a period of a maximum of 3 days for a single direct transit or double-entry.
A transit visa is only valid for direct transit and is not extendable except in case of extreme emergency. A transit visa is not required for a foreigner passing through the country via direct transit by air or for foreigners travelling by ship when it halts at an Indian port.
Indian Tourist Visa
Tourist visas are issued to people who want to go to India to visit friends and relatives or go sightseeing. Although in some cases tourist visas can be granted for more than six months, it's usually not possible to remain in India for longer than six months at a time on a tourist visa.
India now has introduced one-month, one-year and five-year electronic visas for citizens of most countries. These visas are available for the purposes of tourism, business, conferences, short-term medical treatment, and yoga courses.
Tourist visas are non-extendable and non-convertible to any other type of visa except in specific cases. The government requires there to be a gap of at least two months between two visits to India by people from Afghanistan, China, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, or stateless persons.
Indian Business Visa
Business visas are available for people who want to explore business opportunities or conduct business in India. They are valid for five to 10 years and allow multiple entries. However, holders are usually not allowed to remain in India for more than 180 days at a time unless they register with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office.
Business visas are non-convertible to any other type of visa except in specific cases. If a business visa is granted for a period of less than five years it can be extended up for a maximum period of five years and is subject to the turnover of the business activities.
Three Ways to Obtain a Tourist Visa for India
All foreign nationals entering India are required to possess a valid international travel document in the form of a national passport and a valid travel visa.
There are three types of visas you can choose from including an e-Visa, a regular/paper visa by the Indian Mission, or a Visa on Arrival.
|E-Tourist Visa||Regular/Paper Visa from the Indian Mission||Visa on Arrival (for the citizens of Japan, South Korea and UAE)|
|Visas Offered||*One-month double entry, *One-year multiple entry, *Five-year multiple entry||*Five-year multiple- entry tourist visa, *Five-year multiple- entry business visa, *15-day single or double entry transit visa||*30-day single entry|
|Cost||US$ 25, US$ 40 or US$ 80, depending your nationality, plus a bank fee of 2.5%||The fee depends upon the type of visa applied for and it's duration. Check with local Indian embassy or the Indian Visa Application center||US$ 60|
|Application Process||Online application form in on the Government of India’s platform||Apply online and then submit your application with required documents at the physical Indian Visa Application Center or the Indian Mission||Online application form|
|What Happens Upon Arrival||Get the visa stamped in your passport by Indian immigration officers at the airport or seaport.||You will already have the visa stamped in your passport.||Need the visa stamped on your passport by Indian immigration officers at the airport or seaport.|
1. Apply for an Indian E-Visa
The online e-Visa for India is an electronic authorization that allows citizens of eligible countries to travel to and within India. E-Visas can be used for tourism, recreation, sightseeing, casual business, casual visits to meet friends or relatives, or short-duration medical treatment. An e-Visa should be sufficient for most visitors, and has reduced the need for travelers to obtain a regular visa.
E-Visa applications must be made online at the government’s official website, no less than four days and no more than 30 days (for a one-month double entry visa) before the date of travel. The e-Visa application process has 5 main steps:
- Fill out the e-Visa application form online, upload passport photo, and a PDF of your passport page.
- Use a credit card or debit card (both charge 2.5% of the e-Visa fee), or pay via wallet (Paypal charges 3.5% of the applicable e-Visa fee), to pay e-Visa processing fee online.
- Receive Application ID and Electronic Travel Authorization via e-mail within 3 to 5 working days.
- Use your Application ID and passport number to check your visa status. Make sure it shows “Granted” before your travel.
- Print your Electronic Travel Authorization before flying to India and present it at Immigration Check Post to receive the e-Visa stamped on your passport.
Online e-Visa Application
In your application, you should document:
- Passport type and number
- Nationality and date of birth
- Port of arrival
- Expected date of arrival
You are required to enter the personal information matching the information on your passport. Check the sample form for Indian e-Visa.
The documents you need for your application include your passport information page in PDF format, a digital passport photo in JPEG format, and a valid card or a PayPal account.
You are also required to pay the service fee and government fee online with a credit or debit card. After finishing your order and payment, you will receive a confirmation email for your visa order and possibly an email requesting some documents required for processing your visa.
Then the platform will process your e-Visa for India and send the ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) to you by email. You will receive the email within 5 business hours with urgent service, or within 24 hours with fast service. These services, however, cost more than normal.
Getting Your e-Visa Approved at Immigration
Once you have received the email, download your e-Visa and print it out. You need to show the e-Visa upon your arrival in India. It will take 5-10 minutes to get the visa stamped on your passport by Indian immigration officers at the airport or seaport.
The tourist e-Visa allows double entry or multiple entries into India. Despite the Indian e-Visa being a multiple-entry visa, it is important to note that you can only receive a tourist e-Visa for India a maximum of two times in one calendar year.
To be granted your visa, you must arrive in India before the e-Visa expires. In addition, you are only permitted to stay in India for no more than 180 days at a time, no matter how long your tourist visa is valid for. The e-Visa for India cannot be extended or converted for any other purpose, and is not valid for travel to restricted areas.
2. Applying for a Regular Visa Issued by the Indian Mission
Besides applying for an e-Visa, it’s also possible to apply for a regular paper visa online. The Indian government has introduced an Indianvisa online platform. To do this, applicants must:
- Fill out and submit the Visa Application form online. The status of Visa Application can be seen on the Status Enquiry page.
- Print the completed application form and sign it. Then submit the physical copy along with the supporting documents and the passport to the relevant Indian Visa Application Center (IVAC) or directly at the Indian Mission on a scheduled appointed date. Find Indian Embassy and Consulates worldwide.
- Once your visa has been processed, you can collect your passport and visa from Indian Visa Application Center or get it by mail.
The instructions for filling out the form and scheduling your appointment can be seen on the Instructions page.
The required documents for the online application are your passport and a digital photo. Your original passport, one photocopy of your passport information page, and signature page are needed when you go to the visa office.
Your passport must be signed and have a validity of 6 months beyond your expected stay in India. You will also need at least two blank passport pages for the Indian visa stamps.
The digital photograph that will be uploaded along with the online visa application should be in JPEG format and between 10 kb and 300 kb in size.
It is also required to have equal height and width, present the full face from the top of the hair to the bottom of the chin, be front view with eyes open, and have the head centered in the frame.
The background of the photo should be light-colored or white with no shadows on the face. The photo should not have borders.
It’s important to find the correct Indian Mission or consulate to submit your application. Find the consulate nearest your location and you may need to verify if you are permitted to submit your application to them
3. Visa on Arrival for Citizens of Japan, South Korea, and the UAE
The Indian visa on arrival system is available to the citizens of Japan, South Korea & UAE (and only for those UAE nationals who have had an e-Visa or regular visa for India before).
VOA is not available to any person if they or either of their parents or grandparents were born in or are permanent residents of Pakistan. Such persons can only visit India on the appropriate visa received from the relevant Indian Mission/Post.
In addition, VOA is not available to holders of Diplomatic or Official passports. This visa can not be extended or converted to any other kind of visa during your stay in India except under certain special circumstances.
Japanese, South Korean and UAE nationals are required to fill out an application form and present it to the visa officer at the on arrival counter.
You will receive this application from the airline on board your flight and are required to fill out along with the disembarkation card.
Extensions for Indian Visas
You cannot extend your e-Visa. The visa period begins once you enter India and is valid for the indicated duration. Regular tourist visas can only be extended in special cases, such as medical emergencies, accidents, stolen passports, or other stolen personal documents.
Extensions will normally be granted for up to 14 days. You will need to provide two passport photos, your passport (or another travel document if your passport was stolen), and a letter from the hospital (if you are having a medical emergency).
Besides these cases, there are a couple of other circumstances in which you can extend or even change your current visa type. For more information, contact the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi.
Applying Via an Agency
The Ministry of External Affairs of the Indian government decided to outsource visa processing and issuance to eligible third-party services across the globe. This has helped revolutionize the way Indian visas are issued.
In the United States, Indian visa applications are handled by Cox and Kings Global Services. In Canada, it’s handled by BLS International Services Canada Inc. In Australia and the UK, it’s processed by VFS Global.
Obtaining your Indian visa online is relatively easy. Upload the application as well as the required number of photographs through the website of the visa agency. All supporting documents should also be uploaded via the website.
The processing time is usually four working days, unless you are requesting an emergency visa. We still recommend, however, that you apply for an e-Visa, as it is often more convenient and more affordable.
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