Visa policy of India

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
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Indian tourist visa issued in Australia with Indian entry and exit stamps

Visitors to India must obtain a visa from an Indian diplomatic mission unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries or a country whose citizens may obtain a visa on arrival, or an e-Visa online.[1]

Visa policy map[edit]

Visa policy of India

Freedom of movement[edit]

Citizens of the following countries do not require visas or passports to enter India (unless arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Maldives or Pakistan), and may remain in the country without any limit of stay. Citizens of these countries may also live and work freely in India:[1]

Overseas citizens of India/persons of Indian origin[edit]

Foreign citizens possessing an Overseas Citizen of India registration certificate or holders of a Persons of Indian Origin Card are exempt from visa requirements, have the right of domicile in India and are allowed unlimited entries into India. Citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, mainland China, Nepal or Pakistan are generally not entitled to hold Overseas Indian Citizenship.

Visa-free entry[edit]

From March 1979[2] citizens of  Maldives do not require visas to enter India for 90 days (unless arriving from mainland China).[1]

Visa on arrival[edit]

Citizens of the following countries can apply for a visa on arrival (VOA) in Delhi(NCT), Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru or Hyderabad. The visa is issued for business, tourist, medical and conference categories, and has a validity of 60 days.[3][4] The cost is 2,000. The VOA facility can be used for no more than two times in a calendar year.[5][1] Alternatively, foreign citizens eligible for a VOA can apply for an e-Visa instead if they intend to enter the country through an airport or seaport not covered by the VOA scheme.

1 – Conditional; only applicable to UAE citizens if they had earlier obtained e-Visa or regular/paper visa for India. This facility is not available to citizens if they or either of their parents or grandparents (paternal or maternal) was born in or is a permanent resident of Pakistan.[6]

e-Visa[edit]

AmritsarDelhiJaipurAhmedabadMumbaiGoaBengaluruKochiThiruvananthapuramTiruchirappalliChennaiHyderabadKolkataGayaVaranasiLucknowChandigarhNagpurPuneMangaluruKozhikodeCoimbatoreBagdograGuwahatiVisakhapatnamMaduraiBhubaneswarPort Blair
This clickable map shows a list of airports that accept the e-Visa.

On 27 November 2014, the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) facility became operational for citizens of over 40 eligible countries, including those who are eligible for visa on arrival. The list was further expanded to 113 countries in August 2015 (see chart below).[7] ETA is issued for tourism, visiting friends and family, short duration medical treatment and business visits. The scheme was renamed to e-Tourist Visa (eTV) on 15 April 2015.[8] On 1 April 2017 the scheme was renamed e-Visa with three subcategories: e-Tourist Visa, e-Business Visa and e-Medical Visa.

An application for e-Visa must be made at least four calendar days in advance of the date of arrival and can be made as early as 120 days in advance. The visa is valid for one year from the date of arrival. Continuous stay during each visit on an e-tourist visa must not exceed 90 days, except for citizens of Canada, Japan, United Kingdom and United States as well as all nationalities visiting on an e-business visa who are allowed to stay for 180 days.[9] The duration of stay cannot be extended.[10] The e-Visa fees are divided into four slabs of zero, US$25, US$80 and US$100, depending on nationality (based on reciprocity; see table below and notes), plus a bank fee of 2.5% of the visa fee.[11]

e-Visa allows arrival at the following 28 airports and 5 seaports:[12]

Airports

Seaports

Exit is possible via any authorized immigration check post.

Citizens of the following countries and territories who hold ordinary passports are eligible to obtain the e-Visa (unless the citizen is of Pakistani origin):[14]

Note: As of June 2018, the visa fee for citizens of:
  • countries with mark "1", and the UK, is US$100
  • countries with mark "2" is US$25
  • countries with mark "3" is US$0
  • countries without any mark (except the UK) is US$80

Reform[edit]

2013[edit]

In October 2013, India decided to initiate the process of extending visa-on-arrival access to 40 more nations.[29] In January 2014, plans were confirmed by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning of India.[30] The sixteen different types of visa would also be reduced to three: work, business and tourism.[31] The proposal initially met resistance from intelligence agencies and the possible problem of queues emerged.[32][33]

2014[edit]

In February 2014 it was announced that Indian intelligence agencies had 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 application modelled after Australian Electronic Travel Authority system.[34][35][36]

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, was expected to take about 6 months and the authorities hoped to have it in place for the tourist season beginning in October 2014. Prospective visitors would have to pay a fee and the electronic version of the visa should be granted within three days. The program was expected to apply to all international airports. However, nationals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan were to be excluded from this program.[37]

In July 2014 it was announced that India hoped 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 were implemented successfully.[38]

In August 2014 it was revealed that ministries of Tourism, Home Affairs and External Affairs could not agree on the list of countries for the ETA. The Ministry of Tourism proposed to allow the new system for the citizens of the 15 countries with the most visitors to India, the 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.[39]

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.[40] However, in October 2014 the planned introduction of the new e-Visa system was pushed from 2 October 2014 to June 2015.[41] It was also revealed that the list of visa on arrival countries was unlikely to be expanded in 2014.[42]

In November 2014 it was announced that the e-visa system might be rolled out for about 25 countries including the 13 countries that were already eligible for visa on arrival.[43] Later that month it was announced that 28 countries would become eligible for an electronic visa on 27 November 2014 and that the list would include visa on arrival eligible countries as well as Brazil, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Mauritius, Norway, Palestine, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States.[44][45]

In November 2014, the Indian Prime Minister announced visa on arrival facility for nationals of all Pacific countries and Australia.[46][47]

2015[edit]

The manual processing of the visa on arrival was discontinued in January 2015.[48] Until 26 January 2015, citizens of the following countries holding ordinary passports were granted visa on arrival without obtaining an ETA (unless they were of Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin), for a single stay up to 30 days in India when traveling as a tourist or for visiting family or friends:[1][49][48]

In February 2015, the Ministry of Tourism proposed extending the facility to citizens of China, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy and Malaysia.[50] Subsequently, the Minister of Finance announced that the facility would be extended, in stages, to citizens of 150 countries.[51] In March 2015 it was announced that 53 nations were shortlisted for the second round of expansion of the system based on the number of tourist arrivals in the previous years.[52]

After the Government was criticised for naming the new policy "Visa on arrival" it decided to rename it to "e-Tourist Visa (eTV)" in April 2015.[53][54]

The e-Tourist Visa facility was extended to 31 new countries on 1 May 2015.[55]

In May 2015, Indian Foreign Ministry announced that Chinese citizens will be able to apply for e-Tourist Visa facility in order to coordinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting China between 14 and 16 May. Disputes about the Sino-Indian border and national security would be postponed.[56]

On 29 July 2015 Indian Ministry of Home Affairs announced the extension of e-Tourist Visa facility to China, Hong Kong and Macau with effect from 30 July 2015.[57]

The list of eligible nationalities was extended with 36 new countries on 15 August 2015. On the same day the list of eTV airports was expanded with 7 new airports.[58] The extension to 150 nationalities was scheduled to be finished by 31 March 2016.[59]

In September 2015 it was announced that the list would be expanded by another 37 countries.[60]

2016[edit]

In January 2016 it was announced that the extension would take place by March 2016.[61] In November 2015 it was announced that the visa validity will be extended to 180 days.[62]

In January 2016 it was announced that the multiple entries would become available and that e-Tourist Visa holders would receive a gift pack on arrival.[63]

The eTV list was extended for tourists from 37 more countries on 26 February 2016.[64]

In September 2016 it was announced that the electronic visa scheme would be reformed to include 27 visa codes denoting various visit purposes such as tourism, business or medical visits.[65] It was also announced that the list of visa on arrival eligible countries would be expanded.[66]

On 30 November 2016 the Government of India approved further liberalization, simplification and rationalization of visa regime in India. It also announced that more countries would be added to the e-visa list.[67] The e-visa would have a validity of 60 days and could be applied for by foreign nationals up to four months ahead of the visit.[68] Five seaports – Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Goa and Mangalore – would receive tourists coming with e-visa.[69]

2017[edit]

From 1 April 2017 e-visas are granted under three categories of tourist, business and medical. The window for application under e-visa scheme was increased from 30 days to 120 days, and duration of stay on e-visa was increased from 30 days to 60 days, with double entry on e-tourist and e-business visa, and triple entry on e-medical visa.[70] The list of eligible nationalities was also further expanded with 11 new countries,[67] and the list of arrival ports was increased from 16 to 24 airports and 3 seaports.[14]

In July 2017 Uganda was added to the list of e-Visa eligible countries.[71]

2018[edit]

During 2018, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Qatar were added to the list of e-Visa eligible countries.[25][26][27]

2019[edit]

In January 2019 the Indian government updated e-Visa rules for all eligible countries. The validity of Indian e-tourist and e-Business Visa was increased from 60 days with double entry to up-to 1 year with multiple entries. The validity count starts from the day of being granted the e-visa online and not from the day of physical entry as before.[72]

For e-tourist visa, continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days for all eligible nationals of e-tourist visa except for nationals of US, UK, Japan and Canada. For nationals of US, UK, Japan and Canada, continuous stay during each visit should not exceed 180 days. No FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Officer) registration is required.

For e-business visa, continuous stay during each visit should not exceed 180 days for nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-business visa and no FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Officer) registration is required if the stay is for less than 180 days.

During 2019, Saudi Arabia, Belarus and Benin were added to the list of e-Visa eligible countries.[28]

In August 2019, Indian Government announced a 30 Day Visa during the peak season for 25 Dollars.[73][74]

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.[75] Costs differ per consulate and region. Some visa-handling services charge a small fee in addition, to check that completed application form meets all requirements and submit the documents on the applicant's behalf.[76]

Citizens of the following countries do not pay a visa fee – Argentina, Cook Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, Niue Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Solomon Island, South Africa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uruguay and Vanuatu.[11][77]

Restricted and protected area permits[edit]

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, 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 (if travelling by land a pass issued by either the Foreigners Regional Registration Office, Superintendent of police or the diplomatic representation of India in Bhutan or Nepal is required).[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.[78]

Pakistani passport holders and persons of Pakistani origin[edit]

Persons who ever held Pakistani citizenship, or who have a parent or spouse that held Pakistani citizenship are ineligible for India's new E-Visa scheme, and so must apply to their local Indian mission for visas. Applicants who once held Pakistani citizenship require lengthy processing times, while foreign spouses and those of Pakistani origin who never held Pakistani citizenship typically experience shorter processing times.[79] India also forbids Pakistani applicants with dual nationality from applying on their non-Pakistani passport.[79]

Visa on arrival for persons over 65 years of age[edit]

As of 31 March 2013, Pakistani citizens over the age of 65 with the sole objective of meeting friends or family are granted a 45-day visa upon arrival at the Attari-Wagah Checkpoint, so long as the applicant provides a sponsorship certificate from their contacts in India attesting that they will be responsible for the visit of their Pakistani friend or relative, and which must also be countersigned by a DM, SP, SDM, Tehsildar, BDO, SHO, Groups A officer of State and Central Government, or principal/headmaster of a government college or government school who attest that they personally know the sponsor.[79] This scheme does not apply to those who wish to visit Punjab, Kerala and Restricted Areas, nor does it apply to those who have ever been denied an Indian visa before.[79]

Diplomatic or official passports[edit]

Visa policy for diplomatic or official passport holders
  India
  Visa-free for diplomatic and official passport holders
  Visa-free for diplomatic passports
  Visa required for diplomatic or official passports holders

Holders of diplomatic or service category passports of the following countries do not require a visa for India – Albania, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eswatini, Georgia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam and diplomatic passports only of the following countries – Afghanistan, Armenia, Botswana, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zambia.[1][80]

India signed visa waiver agreements for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports with the following countries, which are yet to come into force:

  • Ghana — 13 June 2016[81]
  • Oman — 11 February 2018[82]
  • Zimbabwe (diplomatic passports only) — 3 November 2018[83]
  • Malawi – 5 November 2018[84]
  • Bahamas – 29 November 2018[85]
  • Algeria – February 2019[86]
  • Bolivia – March 2019[87]
  • Costa Rica – March 2019[88]
  • Benin – 29 July 2019[89]
  • Estonia (diplomatic passports only) – 21 August 2019[90]
  • Dominican Republic – August 2019

Visa types[edit]

VISA PROVISION
Sl. No Type of Visa Period for which granted EntrySingle (S),

Multiple (M), Double(D)

Documents required with application Extendable in India
1 Tourist 5 years M NO
2 Transit 15 days S/ D Return/ onward journey ticket NO
3 Business 5 years M Documents to prove bonafide purpose (Company letter etc.) YES
4 Employment 1 year/ period of contract M Proof of employment (appointment document), terms and conditions YES
5 Student Period of course/ 5 years M Proof of admission in Indian Institution YES
6 Foreigners of Indian Origin 5 years M Proof of being of Indian Origin YES
7 Intern Duration of the Internship or One year, whichever is less S/D/M Letter from the Indian company/educational institution/NGO concerned sponsoring the foreign national for internship programme clearly indicating the period of internship. Non-extendable.(Registration required within 14 days of arrival with concerned FRO)
8 Film Duration of the shooting of the film as per schedule submitted or One year, whichever is less S/D/M -Copy of detailed shooting script in case of feature film and detailed concept in case of TV show/serial - Details of visiting film crew and location of film shooting. - Letter of intent regarding the shooting of the film in India mentioning the production schedule, particulars of the cast and crew coming to India for the purpose of shoot, chosen location, list of film equipment and other relevant details. YES
  • If visa is for more than 180 days, registration is compulsory within 14 days of arrival in India.

Requirement of Identification Papers to Establish Their Identity as Nepalese or Indian for Persons Entering India or Nepal from Either Country by Air

Instructions have been issued whereby Nepalese and Indian citizens, while travelling by air, between the two countries must be in possession of any of the following documents to prove their nationality:

  • Valid national passport
  • Valid photo identity card issued by the Government of India / State Government or UT Administration / Election Commission of India
  • Emergency certificate issued by the Embassy of India, Kathmandu to Indians and by the Embassy of Nepal in Delhi in respect of Nepalese citizens

Visitor statistics[edit]

Most visitors arriving in India were from the following countries of nationality:[91]

Country 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
 Bangladesh Increase 2,156,557 Increase 1,380,409 Increase 1,133,879 Increase 942,562 Increase 524,923
 United States Increase 1,376,919 Increase 1,296,939 Increase 1,213,624 Increase 1,118,983 Increase 1,085,309
 United Kingdom Increase 986,296 Increase 941,883 Increase 867,601 Increase 838,860 Increase 809,444
 Canada Increase 335,439 Increase 317,239 Increase 281,306 Increase 268,485 Decrease 255,222
 Australia Increase 324,243 Increase 293,625 Increase 263,101 Increase 239,762 Increase 218,967
 Malaysia Increase 322,126 Increase 301,961 Increase 272,941 Decrease 262,026 Increase 242,649
 Sri Lanka Increase 303,590 Decrease 297,418 Decrease 299,513 Increase 301,601 Decrease 262,345
 Russia Increase 278,904 Increase 227,749 Decrease 172,419 Increase 269,832 Increase 259,120
 Germany Increase 269,380 Increase 265,928 Increase 248,314 Decrease 239,106 Decrease 252,003
 France Increase 249,620 Increase 238,707 Decrease 230,854 Decrease 246,101 Increase 248,379
 China Decrease 247,235 Increase 251,313 Increase 206,322 Increase 181,020 Increase 174,712
 Japan Increase 222,527 Increase 208,847 Decrease 207,415 Decrease 219,106 Increase 220,283
Total Increase 10,035,803 Increase 8,804,411 Increase 8,027,133 Increase 7,679,099 Increase 6,967,601

In 2017 most e-Visas were issues to the following countries of nationality:[92]

Nationality Issued e-Visas in 2017 Share
 United Kingdom 305,954 18%
 United States 202,508 11.9%
 France 93,964 5.5%
 China 91,509 5.4%
 Russia 88,604 5.2%
 Germany 76,295 4.5%
 Australia 72,647 4.3%
 Canada 64,289 3.8%
 South Korea 47,805 2.8%
 Spain 40,896 2.4%
 Singapore 34,690 2.0%
 UAE 34,134 2.0%
 Oman 32,702 1.9%
 Thailand 32,179 1.9%
 South Africa 30,201 1.8%
Others 448,798 26.4%
Total 1,697,175 100.0%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  83. ^ https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/venkiah-naidu-meets-zimbabwe-president-signs-6-agreements-1942478
  84. ^ https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/india-malawi-ink-3-mous201811060153310001/
  85. ^ @MOFABahamas (29 November 2018). "MOFA Bahamas @MOFABahamas H A P P E N I N G N O W Signing of Visa Waiver Agreement for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports. Bahamas and India" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  86. ^ @indiainalgeria (31 January 2019). "Au cours de la visite, deux documents ont été signés : (1) un Programme d'Échange Culturel et (2) un accord d'exemption de visa pour les détenteurs de passeports diplomatiques et officiels. (3/3)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  87. ^ [4]
  88. ^ https://www.mea.gov.in/TreatyDetail.htm?3556
  89. ^ https://mea.gov.in/Images/amb1/Benin_text.pdf
  90. ^ [5]
  91. ^ Market research and statistics
  92. ^ [6]

External links[edit]