Virginia, US
In an attempt to boost tourism and business, India's government is extending the country's visa-on-arrival scheme to tourists from 180 countries. The expansion of the scheme from a limited 11 countries reflects the possibilities provided by the new Immigration, Visa and Foreigners' Registration and Tracking system.
The expanded scheme is expected to be rolled out by October, in time for India's peak tourist season. It will allow holidaymakers to pick up a 30-day single entry visa at the airport on arrival. The exceptions to the scheme will be nationals from Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Somalia. Also, foreign nationals whose parents or grandparents were born in or are permanent residents of Pakistan may not be granted tourist visas-on-arrival.
Tourism in India is economically important and has been growing rapidly. Historically, visitors to India had to obtain a visa from an Indian diplomatic mission, unless they came from a visa exempt country or from one of the 11 countries whose citizens can currently obtain a tourist visa-on-arrival.
Presently, citizens of Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Finland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia are eligible for a tourist visa-on-arrival, which can only be obtained from immigration officers at Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Kochi, Trivandrum, and Hyderabad.
The visa on arrival facility grants a single stay of up to 30 days when traveling as a tourist or visiting family or friends, unlike earlier tourist visas that were of six months’ duration and not utilized to the optimum. A tourist visa cannot be extended or converted to any other kind of visa during the stay in India, except in certain exceptional circumstances. If visitors require a longer stay, or one with multiple entries, their application needs to be filed at the Indian mission in their home country.
Tourist visa holders are not permitted to have a permanent residence or occupation in India, and must not be the subject of any blacklist, warning circular, or other restrictive lists.
To obtain a visa-on-arrival, foreign nationals must have a passport with a minimum validity of six months and a re-entry permit, if required under the law of their country of nationality.
The present tourist visa fee is USD 60 per person (including children) or the equivalent amount in Indian Rupees. The new system will still involve a fee, although the amount is unconfirmed. Tourists will be encouraged to visit an official website to apply and pay the charge before they fly out. They will be granted an electronic version of the visa within three days, which will eliminate the need to visit an Indian diplomatic mission, thereby saving time and expenses.