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All you need to know about changes in Indian visas

Indian government over the past few years has made several changes to the country‚Äôs visa policies, making it easier for foreign nationals to travel to India for work or for leisure. 

Constructive steps are being taken by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to synchronize and streamline the visa issuance process at the Indian Missions abroad. 

Changes have been made to both electronic visas as well as regular visas. Both types are required to be applied for from outside the country. India visas have been now divided between Regular Visas, e-Visas and Visa-on-Arrival.

Regular Visas 

Regular visas application process has been completely overhauled with an aim to streamline the whole application and simplify the subcategories. For example, Intern Visa has now been merged within the Employment Visa and Student Visa regime. The stipend limit has been amended to Rs 7.8 lakhs annually under Internship. 

Now applicants who wish to apply for an internship in India, need to submit an application under Employment Visa if they would receive a stipend and in case no stipend is being paid then they will need to apply under a Student visa. 

Project Visa similarly has also been merged under the Employment Visa. Though some additional documents need to be submitted while applying for Project Visa (under the Steel and Power sector). Employment visa sub-categories have also been recategorized and now long term visa for more than 6 months and Intra-company transferee have been merged under one option. 

Once the visa is granted by the Indian Missions based on the documents provided, they grant the sub-category under the Employment Visa. Under the regular visas now biometrics data collection is also being introduced in most countries.

e-Visas (Electronic Visa)

The Ministry of Home Affairs has made some strategic changes to the e-Visa regime of e-Tourist and e-Business visas.

  1. As per the new change now an applicant can apply for e-Tourist or e-Business Visa any time before his travel to India. Now the applicant is not needed to apply 120 days before his travel.
  2. The validity of the visa has now been made 365 days. Thus, an applicant can enter India any day post the grant to e-Tourist and e-Business visa until any time in the next 365 days.  
  3. Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) or e-Visa will be valid for one year from the date of issuance of the visa with multiple entry travel.
  4. Maximum continuous stay period allowed under e-Tourist visa is up to 180 days for – USA, UK, Canada and Japan. For balance other countries it is 90 continuous days.
  5. There is no requirement for Registration in case of e-Tourist visa.
  6. Under e-Business Visa, a continuous stay of 180 days is allowed. There is no requirement for registration.
  7. If the stay will increase more than 180 days or if the aggregate stay in a calendar year has increased then 180 days then the applicant is required to register with the FRRO/FRO within 2 weeks of the completion of 180 days in India.

Visa-on-Arrival 

The Visa-on-Arrival facility has now been extended to nationals of South Korea and UAE also in addition to Japanese nationals. For UAE nationals though they are eligible for this category of visa only if they have applied for e-Visa and/or Regular sticker visa in the past. 

The validity of the visa is 60 days and can be used for tourism, business, conference and medical visit purpose. Pakistan origin UAE nationals are not eligible for this visa category and would need to apply for a regular or e-Visa. 

This visa is only available when travelling to 6 International airports- Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. One can fill the form and carry it while travelling to India or even have the option of filling it up at the airport upon arrival in India. 

Vibhuti Shah

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