INDIA - Various Amendments to the Immigration Regulations
The Ministry of Home Affairs in India has recently made several changes to the immigration regime. The key changes are as follows:
Modified visa cancellation policy
If a foreign national wishes to use a short duration visa (for example, a conference visa, transit visa or e-visa) to India while holding a long-term, consular-issued Indian visa, the latter will no longer be cancelled but will instead be kept on hold for the duration of the short-term visa.
New visa subcategories
The electronic business visa (e-BV) under the electronic visa (e-visa) scheme, has undergone a change to include visitation for business purposes.
The Business visa has introduced several new sub-categories such as:
Crew of non-scheduled airlines who operate chartered flights and special flights (B-5); Foreign academicians/experts covered under GIAN (B-6); Foreign nationals who are partners in the business and/or functioning as Directors of a company (B-7); Other miscellaneous categories who are eligible for a business visa and are not covered under any of the subcategories listed under a business visa (B-8); and Foreign nationals who are engaged in commercial sports events in India on contract and receiving a remuneration (including coaches) (B-Sports).
The student visa now includes a new subcategory for students coming to India for theological studies and missionary students.
Foreign nationals must strictly adhere to and comply with the purpose of their visit declared at the time of submitting the visa application. However, under a recent amendment, all foreign nationals other than Pakistani nationals entering India on any visa type will now be permitted the activities allowed under a Tourist visa.
Generally, as part of the visa application procedure, an applicant must choose the appropriate visa subcategory from a drop-down list in the application form. However, if the applicant's proposed activities are not covered by the subcategories or they are unsure of the appropriate subcategory, the applicant must apply under the broad category of "visa". The visa officer will then determine the appropriate subcategory.
Previously, e-visas could not be converted within India. Now, however, Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) who hold any short-term (e-visa) or long-term Indian visa and who are otherwise entitled to an entry visa, may be able to convert to an entry visa post arrival in India.
Employers or business travelers who may be affected by these changes are advised to consult their immigration specialist for more information.