Everything you Need to Know about Visas for India

 

Basics

1) Who needs a visa?
2) How do I make an application?
3) Should I make an application in person or by post?
4 ) How long does it take to arrange a visa?
5 ) Which type of visa should I apply for?
6 ) Tell me about Tourist Visas
7 ) Tell me about Transit Visas
8 ) Tell me about Business Visas
9 ) Tell me about Employment Visas
10 ) Tell me about Student Visas
11 ) Tell me about Entry Visas
12) Tell me about Conference Visas
13) Tell me about Journalist Visas
14) Tell me about Research Visas
15) Tell me about Missionary Visas
16) Tell me about Collective Visas
17) How much will my visa cost?
18) Is it possible to get a visa for free?

 

Complex Situations

1) I am travelling with children, what do I need to know?
2) I am in a country in which I am not normally resident, what do I do?

 

Extending a Visa

1) What is the maximum period I can stay for in India?
2) Can I extend my visa/stay in India?
3) Where is my nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO)?

 

Who needs a visa?

All foreign nationals, including children, require a visa to enter India. If you do not hold an Indian Passport, you will need a visa to enter the country.

How do I make an application?

You can make an application for a visa to your nearest Indian Mission (embassy or consular office). Applications can be made in person or by post. You cannot apply for a visa when you arrive in India: make sure you arrange your visa before you travel.

Whichever country you are based in, the embassy will require the following:

- A correctly completed application form in BLACK INK AND BLOCK CAPITALS. If you use one of our EasyFill Forms, be sure to press the Caps Lock key on your keyboard.
- The applicant's original passport. It must be valid for AT LEAST SIX MONTHS and have AT LEAST 4 FREE PAGES.
- Correct visa fee, payable only in CASH or by BANK DRAFT.
- Two passport-size photographs.
- If you do not hold a passport for the country you are resident in, you must supply proof of residency (e.g. National ID Card, Driver's Licence). You are likely to be charged extra for your visa, and processing time may be longer (allow 3 weeks minimum).

Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals need to apply on special application forms, and provide 5 passport-size photographs.

For more details on the specific requirements of your nearest consular office, check here.

Should I make an application in person or by post?

That decision is entirely up to you, although most embassies recommend making personal applications. Postal applications also usually cost more.

Applications in person are often dealt with on the same day. You need to arrive at the embassy before a certain time in the morning. Cut off times vary from Mission to Mission. See the Embassy Directory for time details of your nearest Mission. If you have a straightforward case (e.g. you are applying for a Tourist Visa in your home country, and your application has no errors), then generally your passport and visa will be ready to collect the same afternoon. Note that some Missions require collection the following day, so you may need to make more than one journey to the embassy.

Applications by post are suitable when you live a considerable distance from the nearest Indian Mission. Many US citizens will find this to be the case. With postal applications, you should allow a minimum of 3 weeks for processing. You should send all relevant documents via recorded delivery. Make sure you put your name and address on the outside of the envelope. You will also need to include a pre-paid self-addressed envelope, which can be used to return your documents to you.

There are also a number of companies and tour operators that will make the visa application for you. Each company will have a different processing time.

How long does it take to arrange a visa?

In the most straightforward cases, and depending on the policy of your nearest Indian Mission, visas can be obtained in as little as a day. Straightforward means an application for a tourist or business visa from an applicant resident in the country for which (s)he holds a passport, who has supplied all necessary supporting documentation and a correctly completed form.

In other cases, processing generally takes 15 working days (3 weeks), although special visas may not be granted until 3 months after the application is made. See the information below on specific visa types.

Which type of visa should I apply for?

Multiple entry visas are straightforward to obtain, and are generally valid for 180 days from the date of issue. The type of visa to apply for depends upon the purpose of your visit. For visiting friends, family, or for general touring purposes, the Tourist Visa is the most appropriate. This is by far the most popular visa issued, followed by Business and Transit visas. See below for each visa type, and the requirements for applications.

Tell me about Tourist Visas

The Tourist Visa is a multiple entry visa valid for a period of 180 days, granted for the purpose of tourism. Visits to family and friends are covered by this visa. The six month Tourist Visa is valid from the date of issue. Tourist Visas can also be given for 3 months. Three month visas are valid from the date of first entry into India, which must be within 2 months of the date of issue. Three month visas are gradually being phased out.

General requirements are:

- A correctly completed application form in BLACK INK AND BLOCK CAPITALS. If you use one of our EasyFill Forms, be sure to press the Caps Lock key on your keyboard.
- The applicant's original passport. It must be valid for AT LEAST SIX MONTHS and have AT LEAST 4 FREE PAGES.
- Correct visa fee, payable only in CASH or by BANK DRAFT.
- Two passport-size photographs.
- If you do not hold a passport for the country you are resident in, you must supply proof of residency (e.g. National ID Card, Driver's Licence). You are likely to be charged extra for your visa, and processing time may be longer (allow 3 weeks minimum).

Tourist Visas are the most straightforward to apply for.

Tell me about Transit Visas

Transit visas are granted by Indian Missions abroad for stops of up to 72 hours within 15 days from date of issue. This visa is issued only for changing of flights en route to another country.

For a successful application for a Transit Visa, you must satisfy the General Requirements, and provide:

- evidence of airline tickets for your onward journey
- a valid visa for the final destination

Tell me about Business Visas

Visitors travelling to India on business are generally granted multiple entry Business Visas valid for up to 6 months. It is also possible to obtain longer term multiple entry Business Visas, valid for up to 5 years. The period of stay in India for each visit is limited to 180 days.

Together with the General Requirements applications should be supported by:

-Documents from Indian companies/firms confirming a business relationship
- A letter from the sponsoring organization, detailing
i) The nature of applicant’s business
ii) The probable duration of stay
iii) The length of visa required
iv) The places and organizations to be visited
v) A guarantee to meet maintenance expenses

Individual embassies may have further requirements. Contact your local mission for more information.

Tell me about Employment Visas

The Employment Visa is issued to skilled and qualified professionals who are appointed by organizations as technicians, technical experts, senior executives, etc. In addition to the General Requirements, applicants are required to submit proof of employment by the company or organization. An appointment letter, contract letter, applicant’s resume and proof that the organization is registered in India are required

Tell me about Student Visas

The Student Visa is valid for the period of study in India, up to a maximum of 5 years. Multiple-entry visas are given to genuine students to pursue regular studies at recognized institutions in India.

Requirements:

- General Requirements plus
- A letter confirming admission from a recognized institution
- Evidence of financial arrangements for the stay in India
- In the case of admission to medical or paramedical courses, a Letter of Approval or No Objection Certificate from the Ministry of Health, Government of India, is required
- For admission to graduate or post-graduate courses in engineering/ technical institutions in India, a Letter of Approval or No Objection Certificate from the Ministry of Human Resources Development (Department of Education) is required

Tell me about Entry Visas

Entry Visas are valid for six months to five years stay with multiple entry. This visa is only given to persons of Indian origin. However, members of the family of a person employed in India are also eligible for Entry Visas. Please enquire at your local Indian Mission for full details of supporting documents required.

Tell me about Conference Visas

Visitors attending conferences in India should apply for the Conference Visa. Applications may take up to four weeks.

Requirements:

- General Requirements plus
- A letter of invitation from the organizer of the conference

Visas for international conferences, or on certain subjects as decided by the Government of India from time to time, will be issued only after clearance for the said conference is received from the Government of India.

Tell me about Journalist Visas (J-Visa)

Journalists can obtain a 3 month, single entry visas from a consular office on submission of documentary proof of status (for example, an employment card or original letter from a reputed News/Media agency). The J-Visa is valid for all purposes other than film shooting. The initial three month period can be extended by applying to:

The Publicity Officer (PR)
XP Division
Ministry of External Affairs
Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi-110001
Phone: 3383462
Fax: 3387075/3782391

A six month, multiple entry J-visa is available to journalists who are going to India to work in a branch office of a Foreign Media Company. You should apply directly to your local consular office. The application must be supported by a letter of appointment from the Foreign Media Company office. This visa is also available to journalists replacing a correspondent already in India.

To shoot films and documentaries in India you need prior approval. Applications can be quite involved, and you should check with your local consular office for details. As an example, the Consular Office in Vienna, Austria requires:

1. Application Form for Visa
2. Application Form and undertaking for filming documentaries in India
3. Application for filming at protected monuments
4. List of team members along with name, nationality, date of birth, passport number, place and ate of issue and validity, occupation etc
5. List of cinematic equipments with description and brand name
6. Synopsis of the proposed film project
7. Filming programme stage by stage and date by date
8. Letter from the producer specifying the hospitality required
9. Publicity Returns: TV Channel where the documentary will be screened (details of date/time/duration etc.)

Tell me about Research Visas

Research Visas are valid for the period of research only. You must obtain Approval from the Ministry of Human Resources Development (Department of Education), New Delhi. Contact your local Indian Mission for full details, as visas are granted on a case by case basis.

Tell me about Missionary Visas

The Missionary Visa is a Single entry visa valid for a duration as approved by the Government of India

Requirements:

- General Requirements plus
- Three copies of the letter from the sponsoring organization indicating
i) The intended destination in India
ii) The expected length of stay
iii) The nature and purpose of work to be carried out
- A letter of guarantee from the sponsoring organisation for the applicant's maintenance in India

It can take up to 3 months to process an application for a Missionary Visa.

Tell me about Collective Visas

Collective Visas can be issued to group tours of not less than 4 members and sponsored by a government recognised travel agency. Such groups may split into smaller groups to visit different places in India after obtaining a collective "licence to travel" from Indian immigration authorities. However, the group must reassemble and depart together. General requirements and supporting documents are as indicated for standard Tourist Visas and detailed here.

How much will my visa cost?

The embassy directory provides a schedule of fees for each listed Mission.

Is it possible to get a visa for free or at reduced cost?

Yes, depending upon your nationality. There are bilateral arrangements between India and certain other countries that mean some nationalities need only pay reduced or no fees. To take advantage of these arrangements, you must apply for a visa in your home country. If you apply for a visa in a country for which you do not hold a passport, you may face additional fees.

Nationals of the following countries will be issued free visas:

Afghanistan
Argentina
Bangladesh
Hungary
Jamaica
Maldives
Mauritius
Mongolia
Poland
San Merino
Slovakia
South Africa
Uruguay

Nationals of the following countries do not need a visa for India:

Bhutan
Nepal

Nationals of the following countries will be issued visas at reduced fee schedules:

Japan
Pakistan
Sri Lanka

For more information on these matters, contact your nearest Indian Mission.

I am travelling with children, what do I need to know?

When you travel with children, you are advised to have documentary evidence of your relationship and, where applicable, permission for the child’s travel from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure. When applying for a visa, you will be required to provide a photograph of each child travelling with you under your passport.

These precautions are necessary to combat child trafficking.

I am in a country in which I am not normally resident, what do I do?

You can still apply for a visa at your nearest embassy, however, you should allow at least 15 working days extra processing time. In most cases, you will have to pay an additional fee. The embassy directory provides a schedule of fees for each listed Mission.

What is the maximum period I can stay for in India?

The maximum length of stay in any single period in India is 180 days. This is the case even when a visa is valid for more than 6 months.

Can I extend my visa/stay in India?

Yes you can, subject to approval. If you are on a Tourist Visa, you are entitled to stay in India for up to 180 days, and can move about freely in the country, except to restricted/protected areas and prohibited places.

Beyond 180 days, you must extend your visa, by applying for a Letter of Permission from:

Ministry of Home Affairs
Lok Nayak Bhavan, 1st floor
Khan Market
New Delhi 110003
Phone: 24693334, 24612543, 24617649

Once you have obtained this Letter of Permission, you are required to present it to the Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office (FRRO) together with:

(i) One photocopy of passport and initial visa
(ii) Four photographs of the applicant
(iii) Details of residence in India
(iv) If aged between 15 and 60 years old, and visiting India on a visa valid for more than one year, an HIV test report from a WHO recognized institution is necessary
(v) One copy of marriage certificate in the case of those seeking extension of stay on the grounds of being married to an Indian National
(vi) A genuine certificate from a recognised university/college/institution in the case of a Student Visa
(vii) An accreditation certificate from the Press Information Bureau in the case of a Journalist Visa
(viii) Approval of the Department of Company Affairs in the case of board level appointees in Public Limited Companies
(ix) Two copies of the Approval of Government of India Letter in the case of a joint venture or business collaboration (Business Visa)
(x) One copy of permission from the RBI in the case of a joint venture or business collaboration (Business Visa)
(xi) Terms and conditions of appointments and copies of contracts or agreements, in the case of an Employment Visa
(xii) An undertaking (in the format given below) from the concerned Indian company on the following lines in case of an Employment or Business Visa:

UNDERTAKING

We take full responsibility for the activities and conduct of Mr./Ms. __________________________ national of _______________ during his/her stay in India. If anything adverse comes to notice during this period, we undertake to repatriate him/her on our cost.
Date:
Signature of Competent Authority
Seal:

Where is my nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO)?

You can contact a FRRO at:

New Delhi
Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO)
Ist floor, Hans Bhavan,
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg,
Near ITO, New Delhi
Phone: 011-3319489/3755183/5652389
Monday to Friday 09:30-13:30 and 14:00-16:00

Mumbai
Chief Immigration Officer
Shastry Bhavan Annexe
26, Haddows Road,
Mumbai
Phone: 022-2621169/2620721/8350098

Chennai
S. P. (Immigration and CID)
Interrogation Centre
PCP Attari Rail Mal Mandi
Chennai
Phone: 044-8277036/8277036/2340589

Amritsar
DIG (Border)
Intelligence Branch
13-Lord Singh Road
Amritsar
Phone: 0183-225456/227605/382630

Calcutta
Phone: 033-2470549/5528830

In other cities, the Superintendent of Police of the district acts as Registration Officer for Foreigners.

The Registration Officer issues a Certificate of Registration. These certificates should be surrendered either at the office where registered, or to the Immigration Officer at the port of exit from India. If the certificate is not surrendered to the Immigration Officer at the port of exit, you must produce the receipt indicating surrender of certificate.

Registration is required only once, and multiple entries/exits are allowed during the approved period and whilst the original visa is valid. If entering India on a new visa, reregistration is required.

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