Entry, stay and exit of foreigners into India is governed by the Passport (Entry into India) Act 1920, Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950, Foreigners Act 1946 and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1992. The policy, acts and rules relating to entry of foreigners into India are framed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India.
Visa regime is implemented abroad by Indian Missions & Posts and in India by Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs), home departments & district administrators in the states besides immigration posts. PV-II Section of CPV Division provides the interface with MHA in formulation and implementation of visa policy and is also entrusted with advising Indian Missions/Posts on visa matters. PV- II also formulates policy on grant of diplomatic and official passports. Other important functions and responsibilities of PV-II are appended.
The basic principle of the visa policy is non-discrimination, subject of course to underlying considerations of reciprocity, security and national interests. While a large majority of foreigners is covered under general visa rules, specific visa rules and procedures apply to certain categories of nationals.
1. Visa is not a matter of right and it is entirely up to the competent authority to decide on issue of visa to any foreigner.
2. Visa like passport and consular services is a service and a fee is charged for grant of visa in accordance with the scale laid down by the Government of India. Visa Fees, once charged, are not refundable. Details of visa fees applicable since 1st July 2008, are appended. However, it is advisable to also consult the website of the concerned Indian Mission/Post for scale of visa fees applicable.
All foreigners entering India must have a passport or any other internationally recognized travel document and visa.
Nepalese or Bhutanese nationals entering by land must have some Photo Identity Papers as proof of their nationality. But in case of entry by air directly from Nepal/Bhutan or from a country other than China, they must have a passport. No visa is required. However, they must have visa if they are traveling from China.
The visa applicant should ordinarily be within the jurisdiction of the mission/post or else it is necessary to make a reference to the Indian mission/post in the country to which the applicant belongs. Additional fee is chargeable for making reference to the concerned mission/post.
Gratis visa is granted to diplomats and officials , UN officials traveling on duty or those traveling to India on invitation of Government of India as its guest. Those granted scholarship under Cultural Exchange Programmes are also granted gratis visa.
The following types of India visa are issued to foreign nationals in accordance with the purpose of their visit. Details of requisite documentation may please be accessed at the website of concerned Mission/Post or Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi.
Transit Visa: Transit visas valid for up to 15 days and up to two entries are issued to foreign nationals passing through India on their way to another country. The applicant should possess an air ticket for onward journey to a destination beyond India.
Entry Visa: Entry visa is issued to a Person of India Origin, foreign spouse of Indian national and to spouse/children of foreigners holding any type of visa other than tourist/transit visa.
Tourist Visa: Tourist visa is issued to foreigners who do not have a residence or occupation in India and whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives etc.
- Indian Missions/Posts abroad may issue multiple entry tourist visas for a maximum period of ten years to US nationals and five years to UK nationals, with the stipulation that stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days. However, should the visa holder desire to stay continuously for more than 180 days, he/she should register with the concerned FRRO/FRO within 180 days of arrival.
- Indian Missions/Posts abroad may issue multiple entry tourist visas for a maximum period of five years to nationals of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Vietnam with the stipulation that stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days.
- In respect of foreigners holding multiple-entry tourist visas valid for 5/10 years, there should be a gap of at least two months between two successive visits.If a tourist visa holder needs to return to India within two months of his/her last departure from the country due to exigencies like death or serious illness in the family, non-availability of connecting flights to return to his/her country of origin or travel to another country using India as a transit point or any other exigent situation which can be duly justified with proper documentation to the satisfaction of an Indian Mission/Post abroad or immigration authorities in India, the condition of two month’s gap can be waived. In all such cases, the foreign national should register with the FRRO/FRO concerned within 14 days of arrival.
- Foreign nationals holding six month tourist visas valid for up to three entries would not be subject to the above condition of two month’s gap between two visits if they submit their itinerary and confirmed air tickets for travel to neighboring countries.
- Travel agents of foreign travel agencies and foreign tourists visiting India frequently for genuine tourism may be granted multiple-entry tourist visa with the condition that stay on each visit should not exceed 180 days.
- Tourist visa on arrival has been introduced on experimental basis for nationals of eleven countries viz. Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Tourist visa on arrival is valid for 30 days with single entry facility and is granted by Immigration Officers at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata international airports.
Tourist visa is neither extendable nor convertible into other type of visa except, in very exceptional circumstances.
Business Visa: Valid for up to five years may be granted by Missions/Posts to foreign business persons to set up industrial/business venture or to explore possibilities to set up industrial/business venture in India or to buy/sell industrial/commercial products. Proof of financial standing and expertise in the field of intended business must be produced. For business visas valid up to one year, visa fee prescribed for one year business visa is charged even when the validity of visa issued is less than one year.
Restricted/Protected Area Permits: Visas issued to foreigners are not valid for certain specified areas. Special permits viz. Restricted or Protected Area Permits are required to visit them. These permits are issued by Indian Missions/Posts abroad and MHA/State Governments in India. All Tibetan settlement are Restricted Areas.
Registration: Foreigners entering India on Student visa, Employment visa, Research visa, Missionary visa valid for more than 180 days are required to get themselves registered with the concerned Foreigners Registration Office within 14 days of their arrival in India. Foreigners holding any other type of visa valid for more than 180 days do not require registration if the period of their stay in India on each visit is less than 180 days. However, they must register themselves within 180 days of arrival if the period of their continuous stay exceeds 180 days. For more details, please access the website of MHA or Bureau of Immigration.
Pakistani Nationals and Foreigners of Pak Origin: Visa is granted to Pakistani nationals and foreigners of Pak origin only after clearance by concerned authorities. Pakistani nationals holding visitors visa are required to register themselves at the check post of entry within 24 hours of their reaching the specified places. Pak nationals are permitted to enter into and exit from India only through designated check posts.
Chinese Nationals: Only single entry Tourist and Business visas valid up to 3 months are granted to Chinese nationals. The visa may be extended up to 3 months by FRROs/Ministry of Home Affairs. All other types of visas fall in prior clearance category.
Extension of Visa: Extension of visa , while in India, is dealt by Foreigners Regional Registration Offices, Ministry of Home Affairs.
Gratis Visa: In view of the existing bilateral agreements/arrangements, all types of visas are issued gratis to the nationals of Afghanistan, Argentina(Tourist visa only), Bangladesh, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, South Africa and Uruguay.
Diplomatic, official/service and ordinary passport holders of certain countries are exempt under bilateral agreements from visa requirement. A list of such countries is appended .
Since 2006, a number of Indian Missions/Posts abroad have outsourced visa services. A list as on 1-4-2012 is appended. A few of the missions/posts have outsourced passport and consular services also. Details of Service Provider and visa procedure may be accessed at the website of concerned Mission/Post. The Missions/Posts abroad receive only the Visa Application Fee prescribed by the Govt. of India, through the Visa Outsourcing Agency which charges an additional fee from foreign nationals towards service rendered on account of collection of applications, travel documents and return of the same, after affixing visa by the Mission/Post. The Government of India, in no way, reaps any monetary benefit from outsourcing of visa services nor any funds from the Government exchequer are involved in setting up of visa outsourcing centers which are solely the responsibility of the Service Provider.
TOURIST VISA ON ARRIVAL SCHEME
Government of India has introduced Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) scheme for the nationals of eleven countries, namely, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Finland, Luxembourg , New Zealand , Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia
The TVOA is allowed for a maximum validity of 30 days with single entry facility by the Immigration Officers at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata Airports on payment of a fee of Approx US $ 60/- or equivalent amount in Indian rupees per passenger (including children). TVOA is allowed for a maximum of two times in a calendar year to a foreigner with a minimum gap of two months between two visits. TVOA shall be non-extendable and
non-convertible. The foreigners of above mentioned countries may avail of TVOA for a period up to 30 days for tourism, medical treatment, casual business or to visit friends/relatives, etc. The TVOA facility is not applicable to the holders of Diplomatic/Official Passports. Further, TVOA shall not be granted to the foreigners who have permanent residence or occupation in India. Such persons can visit India on normal visa, as applicable.
A Tourist Visa-on-Arrival can be granted to a foreigner who is a national of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia,
Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia or Myanmar and:
- Whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit etc. and no other purpose/ activity;
- Who does not have a residence or occupation in India;
- Who holds a passport with a minimum validity of six months and a re-entry permit, if that is required under the law of the country of nationality of the applicant;
- Who is a person of assured financial standing (the production of a return ticket and availability of sufficient money to spend during his stay in India may be considered sufficient for this purpose).
(i)A citizen from the above-named countries who wants to come to India for purposes other than as mentioned above or for a longer duration should be granted a visa of the appropriate category by the Indian Mission / Post concerned.
A Tourist Visa-on-Arrival will be valid for entry and stay in India within the period of its validity subject to the conditions specified. The Immigration officer may grant single entry Tourist Visa-on-Arrival valid up to 30 days to the nationals of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia or Myanmar. Tourist Visa-on-Arrival shall be non-extendable and non-convertible.
The Tourist Visa-on-Arrival will be provided only at designated international airports namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and NOT at any other Immigration Check Post (ICP).
Fee for Tourist Visa-on-Arrival
A fee of Indian Rupees equivalent to Approx US $ 60/- per passenger (including children),will be charged from each foreigner for the grant of a Tourist Visa-on-Arrival.
The visitors are required to fill a simple Visa application Form on arrival at the concerned airport. One Passport size photograph is required with the application.
Tourist Visa-On-Arrival may be allowed for a maximum of two times in a calendar year to a foreigner with a minimum gap of two months between two visits.
The Tourist Visa-on-Arrival facility shall not be applicable to holders of Diplomatic/Official passports. Existing procedures/ guidelines, as applicable to these countries for this category, shall continue to apply.
The extant laws / rules / procedures governing entry, stay and exit of the foreigners will apply to the holders of Tourist Visa-on-Arrival. There shall be no deviation from conditions/ procedures outlined above.