INDIA – Changes to Visa and e-Visa Framework
The Indian government has expanded its e-Visa scheme, extended five-year tourist and business visas to more nationals and introduced two new visa categories, among other changes aimed at promoting tourism, business and investment.
Effective 1 April 2017, the e-Visa (formerly called the e-Tourist Visa or e-TV) has been sub-divided into three categories: e-Tourist visa, e-Business visa and e-Medical visa.
The e-visa facility is now available to nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports and three ports, with more ports to be added shortly.
The duration of stay on the e-Visa has been increased from 30 to 60 days, with double entry on e-Tourist and e-Business visas, and triple entry on e-Medical visas.
The window for entry to India has been increased from 30 days to 120 days after application, and business and Medical visa will be granted within 48 hours of application upon urgent requests.
Separate immigration desks to assist medical tourists have been provided at airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Tourist and Business Visa Validity
The regular multiple-entry tourist and business visas for a period of five years will now be available to nationals of most countries. 94 Indian missions with biometric enrollment facilities have now begun issuing five-year long-term tourist and business visas from 1 March 2017. The remaining missions will be providing this facility in due course.
Minimum Salary Pegged in INR Instead of USD
The annual salary threshold for foreign nationals to be eligible for the employment visa category will be changed to INR 1,625,000 from USD 25,000, to protect employers and foreign employees from falling below the threshold due to foreign exchange fluctuation.
New Visa Categories
This new visa category is available to foreign nationals wishing to pursue an internship program with Indian companies, educational institutions or NGOs, subject to certain conditions. The duration of stay of this visa is limited to the duration of the internship or one year, whichever is less, and the visa will be granted immediately pursuant to completion of graduate or post graduate studies. Hence, it cannot be used for mid-career or intra-company internships. There are expected to be numeric caps on the number of these visas that each Indian mission can issue in a year.
Also a new visa category, this is available to foreign nationals wishing to shoot a feature film or TV show and will carry a maximum validity period of one year with multiple entries.
Business travellers eligible for the e-Visa can plan longer trips with double entry.