How you can obtain a visa for India as a foreigner?

Any foreigner desiring to enter India must have the required valid international travel document, known as passport obtained from an Indian Post located in his country of residence. The application can be secured by applying for the Indian Visa through online means. The application must be completed truthfully and signed, before submitting it physically through the concerned Indian Visa Application Center (IVAC). It can be sent directly to the Indian Post as well. This should be done on the scheduled date of interview, along with all the pre-requisite supporting documents.

Other facts about visa services

  1. The rules and regulations related to the entry, stay and exit of foreigners in India are governed by: Passport (Entry into India) Act 1920, Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950, Foreigners Act 1946 and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1992.
  2. In the foreign countries, the visa regime is implemented by Indian missions, and in India you have district administrators and home departments in the states and also Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs). Additionally, there are immigration posts within each state as well.
  3. Visa services are generally non-discriminated, but of course, conditions apply. When there is a threat to national or security interests, visa would be denied.
  4. General rules apply to foreigners, but in certain cases, they can apply to certain foreign nationals or categories of nationals.
  5. Being granted a visa is not anybody’s right. It is entirely upon the discretion of the governing authority whether a particular foreign national should be granted a visa or not.
  6. Visa processing fees are charged, and if anyone changes his mind regarding coming to India once he has paid the fees, then the money wouldn’t be refunded.

Registration required for an extended stay

Apart from having a valid passport and visa, foreigners desirous of visiting the country must register themselves within 14 days of arriving if they wish to stay in the country for more than 180 days or 6 months.
This is specifically applicable for foreigners who enter the country on the following grounds

  1. As a student
  2. For research purposes
  3. Medical attendant or medical visa

Sometimes, in other visa types, endorsements would be made by the Indian Embassy and such individuals would have to complete the registration even if they intend to go back within 180 days. The registration must be completed at Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs) located at the following cities in the country: New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Calicut, Cochin, Amritsar, Lucknow, Trivandrum, Goa and the District Superintendents of Police. Registration is normally free, but if the registration is not completed within the stipulated time, then a penalty equivalent to $30 dollars must be paid in INR.

Any foreigner who overstays would be prosecuted under Foreigners Act 1946, may even be imprisoned for 5 years and expelled from the country. Foreigners entering on long term basis would not have to register themselves, especially if they are entering on Business/Entry(X) / Journalist Visa if they leave the country within 180 days. Registration is mandatory if they are expecting to stay for more than 180 days. Even foreigners who possess Tourist visa must personally appear and register themselves if they intend to re-enter the country within 60 days of last departure. In such cases, they would have to do a special endorsement registration.

Types of visas offered to foreigners

If a foreigner is entering India, then he can do so under the following visa types

Tourist Visa

Foreigners wishing to come to the country on a sightseeing endeavor must obtain a tourist visa. It is not mandatory that every tourist visiting the country would be granted a visa for 180 days, it can vary, depending on the person’s nationality. New rules regarding Tourist Visa have been introduced in 2009 and then later changed in 2012.

X (Entry) Visa

If a foreigner entering India doesn’t fall into any particular category, then he can choose to take the X Entry Visa.

These visa applicants could be

  • A foreigner who has a parent of Indian origin
  • Spouses or children of foreigners who are of Indian origin or are Indian citizens
  • Spouses or children of foreigners entering the country on an Employment visa or Business visa

However, such people cannot work in India, but they do not have to leave the country every six months and their visas can be extended.

Employment Visa

Foreigners coming to India for work purposes can apply for the employment visa. The employment would be based on a contract and the visa, extended. Foreigners need to show proof of employment while registering.

Student Visa

Foreigners who come to India for study purposes. The visa period usually lasts 5 years, but that depends on the duration of course.

Business Visa

Applied by foreigners who enter India to conduct business or explore business opportunities in the country. However, they need to show some proof of their business, like a letter from the organization they are planning to do business with, duration of stay, nature of business and so on.

Research Visa

Scholars or professors who wish to enter the country for research purposes can apply for Research Visa. It is a bit difficult to get this visa and may take up to 3 months.

Journalist Visa

Usually issued for 3 months and given to foreigners who would like to access a particular person or area. Getting a Journalist Visa is also quite tough.

Medical Visa

Foreigners can come to the country on a medical visa if they require medical treatment or wish to go to a treatment center. Two other people who can accompany the patient would also be granted the medical visa.

Transit Visa

This is given to foreigners who stay in the country for less than 72 hours. If more time is required, then a Tourist Visa has to be obtained.
Foreigners applying for visa to enter the country must have a valid passport and the details entered must be accurate, truthful and honest. The High Commission processes all visa applications!

Have a nice stay at this culturally diverse, land of opportunities!

Interesting links about the topic:
Procedures to get an indian visa as a Foreigner
How to get an Indian Visa

Pictures: Rolling Okie/ Natesh Ramasamy

The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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