According to official data, close to half a million people visited India in 2015, with this number expected to grow each year. The reasons to visit the country might vary, for some it is about finding their spiritual self, for others it could be an opportunity to be a part of a growing economy, while for others it could be a once in a lifetime chance to be a part of one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Regardless of what the purpose to visit the country is, there is one common factor which binds all those who come to India – an Indian Visa.
Traveling to a new country can be hard, with a number of questions plaguing us. Here are a few common questions which can smoothen the process of getting an Indian Visa.
Is It Mandatory For Me To Have A Visa To Visit India?
The answer to this question depends on the country you are a citizen of. While citizens of almost every country require an Indian Visa to enter the country, there are certain exceptions. If you are a citizen of either Nepal, Bhutan, or Maldives, you can enter the country without a visa, albeit with certain terms and conditions. Maldivian citizens are permitted into the country only for a specific length of time, with a visa required if the duration exceeds this period.
Similarly, India has close diplomatic ties with certain nations and citizens of these countries are entitled to certain preferential visa schemes. This, however, doesn’t eliminate the need for an Indian Visa to enter the country. Individuals of Indian origin are also privileged in certain cases, but they too will need a visa, subject to the prevailing rules and regulations in place.
What Are The Different Types Of Visas Offered?
There are a number of visas which are offered by the government, with each type catering to a particular purpose. Listed below are the different visa types which an individual can choose from, subject to certain eligibility criteria.
- Tourist Visa – This is perhaps the most popular visa when it comes to visiting India. It enables an individual to explore the country as a tourist or to meet friends/relatives. It is ideal for someone who wishes to spend a small period of time exploring the country. One can stay a maximum of 6 months at a time on this visa, with no re-entry permitted for 2 months. Citizens of USA can get extended tourist visas, with the maximum validity being 10 years.
- Employment Visa – This visa can be used by foreigners who have been offered a job in India. A job could mean either a permanent employee, a volunteer (NGOs only) or a paid internship. This visa is subject to a number of restrictions.
- Entry Visa – This is a special visa which is given to individuals of Indian origin, children/spouse of such individuals or to individuals who are not eligible for any other visa. It provides certain privileges to anyone who holds it, but is given in special cases only.
- Student Visa – This visa is given to students who wish to pursue a recognized course in India. The validity depends on the period of the course and is aimed at providing smooth passage to students who wish to utilize the Indian education system.
- Medical visa – This is becoming a popular option among individuals seeking medical treatment in India. An affordable healthcare system combined with medical improvements have resulted in a number of foreigners coming to India for medical treatment. The visa is provided only in case of genuine medical emergencies, with the maximum validity being 1 year.
In addition to the aforementioned visas, individuals can also opt from the ones listed below:
- Conference Visa
- Emergency Visa
- Diplomatic Visa
- Journalist Visa
- Missionaries Visa
- Research Visa
- Transit Visa
- Urgent Visa
How Do I Know Which Visa To Apply For?
Given the options available, it is imperative that you apply for a visa which suits your requirement. You should know the purpose of each visa and the eligibility criteria which need to be met in order to get the visa. One should do research and apply for a visa accordingly. A wrong visa might not permit you to do the task which you actually intended to. It is advisable to consult a visa expert/go through the official website in order to determine which visa suits your needs.
How Much Will I Have To Spend To Obtain An Indian Visa Cost?
The cost for an Indian Visa depends on a number of factors, including the visa applied for, duration of visa, country of an applicant, etc. There is a fixed Consular fee which is charged for each application, which is based on bilateral agreements between India and different governments. This means that citizens from different countries would pay different amounts towards a visa application. The fee towards processing an application is non-refundable. The fee is waived for citizens from certain countries, depending on the diplomatic relationships between the two nations.
In addition to the Consular fee, authorized agencies might charge a certain amount as their service charge in order to process an application.
The table below indicates the Consular fees for different visas.
|Visa Type||Country||Duration||Consular Fee (Rs.)|
|Tourist Visa||Singapore||6 months||2,200|
|Tourist Visa||Sri Lanka||6 months||1,700|
|Tourist Visa||USA||6 months||4,100|
|Tourist Visa||USA||5/10 years||10,200|
|Tourist Visa||UK||6 months||8,800|
|Tourist Visa||Other nationalities||6 months||2,800|
|Entry Visa||USA||6 months||7,000|
|Entry Visa||Sri Lanka||6 months||1,700|
|Entry Visa||Other nationalities||6 months||5,500|
Note: The amount mentioned above is subject to variations in currency. The fees can be changed without prior notice and individuals should check the fee before applying. Citizens of certain countries are not charged any consular fee, depending on the visa they are applying for.
How Can I Pay The Fee For An Indian Visa?
There are a number of different ways in which the fee can be paid. Individuals can pay either via credit cards or through money order (depending on the country they are applying in). Payment by post, be it in the form of cheques, cash, etc. is not typically entertained. The amount is deducted only at the time of receipt of application.
The government has given certain travel agencies the task of receiving and submitting visa applications, with the fee for these agents to be paid separately.
Do I Have To Submit Certain Documents In Order To Avail An Indian Visa?
Yes, an application will not be processed unless it is accompanied by certain documents. While the list varies, depending on the type of visa required, the following documents can be considered as universal while applying for a visa.
- Duly filled and signed application form.
- Recent passport size photographs (the background and specifications might vary, depending on the visa applied for).
- Proof of citizenship.
- Valid passport (copy and in original).
- Copy of medical reports (in case of Medical visa).
- Letter from local sponsor.
- Proof of Indian origin/connections (if applying for Entry/X Visa).
- In case of minors, a letter from the parent/guardian should be submitted.
- Copy of previous visa (if applicable).
Other documents could be required, depending on additional factors. Individuals should check the exhaustive list of documents for a particular visa in order to meet all criteria.
How Long Does It Take To Process A Visa Application?
The time taken for a visa application to be processed is dependent on a number of factors. The country of origin of an applicant, the purpose of visit, the financial background, supporting documents, etc., all have a role in determining the amount of time it takes to process an application. Typically, a tourist application can be processed in a few weeks, whereas it could take longer for other visa applications to be processed. Individuals belonging to countries with whom India has friendly relations might find their application processed faster than those coming from nations with whom India doesn’t have the best of relations.
Bilateral agreements and special programs ensure that citizens from certain countries receive their visa faster than others. Applications from individuals of Indian origin might take around 2 weeks to process, whereas a regular tourist visa application could be processed in under a week. In case of emergencies, the application can be processed within a day. Individuals from Pakistan could see their application take anywhere between 6 to 8 weeks to be processed.
Where Should I Apply For An Indian Visa?
The Indian government, in a bid to improve services has appointed certain agencies who are authorized to accept and process visa applications. In countries where such agencies do not exist, one can apply for a visa by visiting the Indian Embassy/Consulate. Applications for certain visas can be submitted online as well. In case of emergencies, one can reach the relevant authorities on social media to fast-track an application.
How Long Is An Indian Visa Valid For?
Each visa comes with a different validity. While most Tourist Visas are valid for 6 months, there are other visas which are valid for as many as 10 years. Individuals who visit the country on an X/Entry Visa are permitted multiple entry into the country for 10 years. Similarly, individuals from the USA who come on a Tourist Visa can be given a visa which is valid for 5 or 10 years. A Medical visa is valid for a period of 1 year or the actual duration of medical treatment, while a Student Visa is valid for the period of study in the country. The validity varies with each visa, depending on the purpose of visit and the individual. While most visas have a maximum term for which they are valid, the government isn’t obligated to provide a visa for that term. The term could be shortened in certain cases as well.
What Am I Entitled To Do On An Indian Visa?
As mentioned previously, a particular visa can be used only for a specific purpose. Individuals should check what they are entitled to do on a given visa. While a Tourist Visa enables one to travel across the country and meet friends/relax, it does not permit one to work in the country. Similarly, a business visa does not entitle one to gain employment in India. While a visa might enable one to visit the country, certain special permissions might be required in order to visit certain remote areas.
Can I Change The Visa Type After It Has Been Given?
No, a change in visa type is typically not permitted. Individuals would have to reapply for the visa which they want. A particular visa, once given, will not be converted into a different one, unless during emergencies. It is therefore important to apply for a visa which suits your needs and requirements.
Am I Guaranteed A Visa When I Apply?
One might be of the opinion that their visa application will always be approved, but this isn’t the case. The government can reject an application, denying a visa on various grounds. It is not mandatory for the authorities to grant a visa, nor are they obliged to give the reason for rejection. A visa application can be approved or rejected at the sole discretion of the government.
What Are The Grounds On Which My Visa Application Can Be Rejected?
An application can be rejected due to multiple reasons. The most common ones are because of incomplete application forms, failure to pay the full visa fee, lack of supporting documents, etc. Applications from individuals who do not match the purpose for a visa might also be rejected. Additionally, if the authorities perceive an individual to be a threat to the country’s security, they can reject his/her application. The government is not entitled to give a reason for rejection, which is why it is important to be careful while submitting an application.