Visa policy of India

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Visitors to India must obtain a visa from one of the Indian diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries or countries whose citizens may obtain a visa on arrival.[1] India plans to reform the visa policy during 2014 by allowing tourists from most countries to obtain an electronic visa online.[2]

Visa policy map[edit]

Visa policy of India

Visa-free entry[edit]

Entry stamp
Exit stamp
Entry and exit stamps.

Citizens of the following countries do not require visas to enter India (unless arriving from mainland China), and may remain in the country without any limit of stay:[1]

Visa on arrival[edit]

Citizens of the following countries are granted visa on arrival (unless they are of Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin) for a single stay up to 30 days in India when travelling as tourist or visiting family or friends:[1][3]

This is applicable at the following airports: Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram. Visa on arrival allows only a single entry and is issued maximum of two times in a calendar year, with a minimum gap of 60 days between each visit.[4]

It takes from 20 minutes upwards to obtain a visa on arrival.[5]

Reform[edit]

In October 2013, India decided to initiate the process of extending visa-on-arrival access to 40 more nations.[6] In January 2014, plans were confirmed by Planning Minister of India.[7] The sixteen different types of visa would also be reduced to three: work, business and tourism.[8] The proposal initially met resistance from intelligence agencies and the possible problem of queues emerged. In February 2014 it was announced that Indian intelligence agencies have given their approval to visa-on-arrival for up to 180 countries, largely due to the new possibilities provided by the Immigration, Visa and Foreigners' Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) system. The system would not be a typical visa on arrival in order to avoid clutter at the airports, but a system based on a prior online applications modelled after Australian Electronic Travel Authority system.[9][10][11]

On 5 February 2014 it was decided to introduce visa-on-arrival to tourists from 180 countries. Technical implementation, such as setting up the website for applications, is expected to take about 6 months and the authorities hope to have it in place for the tourist season beginning in October 2014. Prospective visitors will have to pay a fee and the electronic version of the visa should be granted within three days. The program is expected to apply to all international airports. However, nationals of following countries are excluded from this program:[2]

In July 2014 it was announced that India hopes to implement the program for citizens of 40 countries in the first phase by December 2014 and later on for 109 additional countries if the first phase is implemented successfully.[12]

In August 2014 it was revealed that ministries of tourism, home affairs and external affairs cannot agree on the list of countries for the ETA. Ministry of tourism proposed to allow the new system for the citizens of the 15 countries with the most visitors to India, Ministry of external affairs proposed to create a balanced list with some Asian and African countries while the Ministry of home affairs proposed to exclude all countries with high security concerns.[13]

In September 2014 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the United States would be added to the list of countries whose citizens may obtain a visa on arrival.[14] However in October 2014 the planned introduction of the new e-Visa system was pushed from 2 October 2014 to June 2015.[15] It was also revealed that the list of visa on arrival countries is unlikely to be expanded in 2014.[16]

Costs for visa applications[edit]

Visa applications can be submitted in person or sent by post to an Indian consulate. It can also be submitted to designated Visa service provider in certain countries.[17] Costs differ per consulate and region. Some visa-handling services charge a small fee on top of it to check that completed application form meets all requirements and submit the documents on the applicant's behalf.[citation needed]

Restricted and Protected Area Permits[edit]

See also: Minicoy Island

A Protected Area Permit (PAP) is required to enter the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and some parts of the states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. A Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to enter the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and parts of Sikkim. Some of these requirements are occasionally lifted for a year at a time. Permits are not required for nationals of Bhutan travelling by air to/from Thimphu via Bagdogra and for nationals of Nepal travelling by air to/from Kathmandu.[1] Special permits are needed to enter Lakshadweep Islands. Maldivian citizens are allowed to visit Minicoy island for fifteen days if allowed by the High Commissioner of India to the Maldives.

References[edit]