When you are searching for the right Indian visa, it is easy to get overwhelmed.
Everyone seems to say something different, and you may feel the need to hire an immigration lawyer just to make sure you don’t get arrested for filming a family video at the Taj Mahal.
Here’s an easy-to-understand comprehensive guide for you, covering all the visas for India.
A few disclaimers to start:
This is an overview, not a checklist. You will not find a list of all the documentation you need for each visa because the requirements vary from country to country. It is best to contact the Indian embassy in your country or region.
This does not constitute legal advice. Visa matters are serious, and you should not take them lightly. You should only do what your visa allows you to do while in India. You can and will be deported or imprisoned for violating your visa.
I do not give personal advice on visas. I’ve collected the best information I could, and will try to keep it updated. Please don’t email me with individual questions, as I’ll only refer back to this document or to your local embassy staff.
Indian Visa Terminology
Here are some terms you should be familiar with before applying:
1) Validity (how long your visa is good for) – Validity of a visa can range from 15 days to 15 years. Especially if you are on the shorter side, remember that your validity starts from the date the visa is issued, not the date you arrive.
2) Continuous stay – Just because you are the holder of a ten-year tourist visa does not mean you can settle into your Goan paradise home without ever leaving. For most long-term visas, each visit can only be for a maximum of 180 days.
3) Entry (how many times you can enter the country) – Visas can be single, double, triple, or multiple entry.
4) Registration – Some visas require you to register your presence. If you think yours does, refer to the forthcoming FRRO guide.
5) Restricted areas – Certain areas of India like Jammu & Kashmir, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim, and Nagaland have restrictions about foreigners. If you plan on visiting these areas, make sure you have the right clearance.
6) Cost – Fees for visas are dependent on the country you are applying from and the validity. Check with your local embassy for the exact rates. There are a few countries that India has an agreement with to not charge fees for visas.
7) Processing time – This will vary by visa. Tourist visas are the most common and can be quick to process. Other visas like Student and Employment are more complex and take more time to be approved. Also, if you are or ever have been a citizen of Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, or have Pakistani heritage, it is likely that your processing time will be longer.
Types of Visas
The first six types (Tourist, e-Tourist, Business, Employment, Entry, and OCI) are the most common and therefore easiest to get. Embassies prefer common because they are familiar with the process, and are easier for them to grant. Also, different nationalities might have different visas available to them that are not available to others. You should check with your local embassy to see what options you have.
- Tourist Visa (T)
- e-Tourist Visa (eTV)
- Business (B)
- Employment (E)
- Entry (X)
- Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)
- Diplomat (D)
- Transit (TR)
- Student (S)
- Journalist (J)
- Research (R)
- Conference (C)
- Project (P)
- Medical and Medical Attendant (Med, MedX)
Once you’ve selected the right visa for you, it’s time to fill out your online India visa application form!
Photo Credit: Udo on Flickr