A visa (derived from the Latin word ‘word ‘çharta visa’ or ‘paper which has been seen’) is essentially a document which signifies conditional permission to the holder of the passport to enter, stay (specific duration) or exit a foreign country. It is important to note that a visa per se is not a guarantee of entry into certain countries including the United States. Also, a visa can be revoked at any time.
Visa application process
An individual who wishes to obtain a visa for entry into a foreign country has to visit the consulate of the foreign country located in his or her native country and produce documents which support his credentials. In many countries, there are private visa processing private agencies which have tie-ups with foreign embassies to facilitate the process of visa application. The services offered by visa agencies come with an additional fee. There will a waiting period, following which, consular officials grant a visa. The waiting period differs from country to country. Intriguingly, Indian tourists who wish to visit the French Island of Reunion (with tours organised by an authorized travel agency in India) are given free Visa on arrival (VoA) which is valid for 14 days. You can apply for visa both online and offline. Many countries prefer to accept online visa applications.
Visas are divided into various categories based on two factors - purpose and duration of the stay. Indian citizens may enter a foreign country for various reasons ranging from education and medical treatment to employment and tourism. Apart from the aforementioned visas, there are some common visas issued for a group of countries which are members of various regional organizations. The list of common visas is as follows:
East African Single Tourist Visa
Central American Single Visa
ASEAN common visa scheme
Gulf Cooperation Council
In most cases, the visa application process varies from one country to another. Furthermore, the application process of visas may vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for.
The eligibility criteria for issuing visas depends on the type of visa chosen - tourist, business, student visas or work permit. You would, therefore, do well to contact representatives of a foreign country's consulate in India for specific details to ensure that you avoid submission of faulty or inadequate documentation. For a student visa, an applicant should have proof of his educational certificates from a recognized institute and a recommendation letter besides the required grade for admission into the educational institution in a foreign country. An introduction letter from the head of the department or dean apart from fees’ payment receipt should also be submitted. On the other hand, for a highly skilled worker, an applicant should submit a work contract, experience certificates, details of the nature of the project and so forth. The eligibility criteria differs for people across various fields such as sports, culture and even humanitarian work. Also, visas for any family member of a salaried employee employed abroad require submission of the necessary supporting documents such as birth and marriage certificates among others.
The documents* required for visa application process varies depending on the norms governing visa issuance in a foreign country and the purpose of the stay. Consequently, the list of documents which need to be submitted for visa application may change from one country to another. Nevertheless, there are some common documents which may have to be verified by consular officials of a foreign embassy in India.
Some of the common documents required are listed in the table below:
* List is not exhaustive. French embassy can request for more documents if necessary
From November 2015 onwards, Indian citizens are being issued biometric visas by France at 14 VFS (Visa Application Centers) in India. However, children below 12 years do not have to undergo biometric tests. The biometric data on the applicants is stored for 5 years in the Visa Information System (VIS). According to the official website of the french embassy, all Schengen Area countries have access to VIS. Nevertheless, the VIS does not reduce the period of visa issuance in India - 72 hours in consulates other than those situated in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Puducherry and Kolkata.
The following measures have to be followed by Indian citizens as part of the visa application process to France
Fill in the required visa application form along with supporting documents: Please log on the official website of the French embassy in India for details of the fees and documentation
Book an appointment: You have to schedule an appointment at the VFS centre. Applicants who are under 18 years should be accompanied by their parents/guardians to the consulate
Submit application: You have to submit filled in visa application forms with the supporting documents at a VFS centre
Pay fees: You will receive a receipt for payments at a VFS Centre. The following table shows visa fees applicable for various types of visas to France
Children below 12 years for short stay
Student long stay*
*Additional service charges amounting to Rs.1444 have to be paid along with cash handling charges (Rs.60) on a per application basis
Track application: You can track the status of your application online by logging on to the official website of the French embassy,. You have to enter your receipt number and date of birth to check the status of your application.
United States of America (USA)
The United states issues various types of immigration and non-immigration visas. Some of the non-immigration visas issued by the US include business visa, student visa, tourist visa, work visa, exchange visitor visa, media visa, ship crew visa and even religious worker visa. B1 visa is issued to individuals who wish to go to the United States on a temporary basis for business purposes while B2 visas are issued to those who intend to go to the US for recreational purposes such as visiting relatives and tourism among others. B2 visas are also issued to those who want to go to the US for their medical treatment.
The following steps have to be followed by Indian citizens as part of the visa application process to the United States
Find out the visa type applicable to you: There are different types of visas available for various purposes - recreational, studies/research, social service, medical treatment, business, tourism and so forth. You can follow up on the required documents only after you ascertain the right type of visa depending upon the purpose of your entry into the US.
Fill out nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form: All details have to be filled-in without fail. You may contact the call center in case of any queries regarding DS-160.
Payment of visa fees: You should create your profile to get your receipt number without which you cannot book your interview for approval of your visa. Application fees for nonimmigrant visas cost around USD 160.
The following table shows the various applicable visa fees
Book appointment: You have to login to the very profile you created for payment of your visa fees. Browse the page to begin the process of booking appointments. You should book two appointments - one at the Visa Application Center (VAC) and another at the consulate. You should get your fingerprints one day prior to the interview at the consulate for which you have to submit details of your passport number, barcode number and the date of payment of visa fees.
Visa Application Centre appointment: You have to bring various documents to the interview such as valid passport, copies of confirmation of visa appointment and DS-160 in addition to a photograph
U.S. Embassy appointment: You should bring various documents to the consulate such as appointment letter, latest/current passport, a copy of DS-160 page and supporting documents
Immigration visa application process
An individual who wants to immigrate to the United States has to get a petition approved by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The petition has to be filed by a relative or employer. If you wish to receive an immigrant visa, you should pay around USD 165. A Police Clearance Certificate has to be acquired in addition to a medical test, filled in form DS-260 online and a printed copy of the confirmation page of DS-260 form. Log on to the official webpage of the US embassy in India, login and click on the option of ‘Schedule Appointment’. You have to book appointments at the Visa Application Center(VAC) and the Consulate. You will have to bring important documents such as passport with 6 months’ validity, copy of the confirmation page of form DS-260, appointment page and one photo for the interview at the Visa Application Centre. Likewise, the list of documents you need to bring to the US Consulate after you take your fingerprints include Certificate of Police Clearance, confirmation page of DS-260, current passports, supporting documents and a medical examination report.
News About Visa Application Process
India Introduces New Rules and Regulations for Medical Tourism Visa
India will go easy on the medical visa rules and get tech friendly. The change is part of a bigger plan which is to increase Indian Medical Tourism by 10% a year. India will soon change the rules regarding medical tourism visa after having received flak for the tedious medical visa process. For years, there have been complaints regarding the amount of time the patients have to wait in order to avail the treatment along with the whole process. As of now, patients going to India for medical treatment have to seek online appointments from Indian Missions and this might take from weeks to months. The Ministry of Home Affairs has agreed to make changes after pressure from the Prime Minister's office.
Annual India Pilgrimage Applications Invited by the Government
The annual (Urs) of Khawaja Allauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kaliyari celebrations will be held in India nd applications for attending the event have been invited by Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony by the 24th of May. A Rs.1000 charge that is not refundable will have to be deposited online by the applicants and the transfer must be made to the National Bank of Pakistan. When submitting the application to the ministry, the original receipt of the amount deposited must be attached to the application. The ministry has also revealed that the celebrations will be able to house only 200 Pakistani pilgrims this year, and should there be an excess of applicants, there will be a ballot held on the 1st of June through which the lucky participants will be determined.