After you choose the right visa, the first thing you must do is complete the online Indian Visa Application form. If this is your first interaction with the government of India, you should refresh yourself on How to Please the Babu. This will get you in the right frame of mind.
The form seems easy enough, but a simple mistake can lead to your application being rejected, which means you lose your application fee, and you have to start the process over again! So, it’s best to get it right the first time.
Before you begin
Two things to remember:
1) Filling out the Indian Visa Application form online does not mean you have submitted it. The purpose of the online form is to make sure you have filled in all the correct information in the right format for easier processing. If you make a mistake, you can start over and it will not affect your application. No one is looking through all this data and cross-checking it. The only form that matters is the one you print out when you finish.
2) You may not alter the application after you print it. This includes handwriting answers. Once you print it out, if you want to make any change at all, you must start the application form over again.
Overview of the Process
Start your Indian Visa Application form by clicking this link: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/indianVisaReg.jsp
If you are applying for any visa other than the e-Tourist Visa, click the Online Visa Application in the upper left corner.
Page 1 Guide
Country you are applying from – This means where you physically are now. It is usually the same as your permanent residence, but certain visas can be applied for outside of your residence. If your residence is in Birmingham, but you are in Bangkok and need a transit visa, choose the Bangkok Mission.
Indian Mission – Choose the mission/embassy that you want to issue your visa.
Dates – Dates in India (as well as most of the world) read Day/Month/Year, not Month/Day/Year. For example, July 2nd is 2/7; February 7th is 7/2.
Visa Type – Some categories may request additional information later on.
- For Business, you will need to be prepared to give the address of the company that is inviting you.
- For Conference, have the give the details of the conference.
- For Employment, you will need to know your salary in Rupees. It must be more than Rs 1,25,000 (Given Rs. 60 = US$1) unless you are with an NGO.
- For Tourist, you will need a places you are planning to visit.
- For Medical/Surrogacy, you will need the details of the hospital you are going to.
Page 2 Guide
Write down your temporary application ID. Every time I fill out this form I have to do it a few times and wish I had saved the number.
Name – When inserting your name, put it exactly as it appears in your passport with no mistakes. “Surname” is your family name. “Given name” is your first and any middle names.
Sex – There are officially three genders in India.
Town/city of birth – This must be exactly as it is mentioned on your passport. Do not put any other additional information. If it says “Ohio” on your passport, but you were actually born in Columbus, put “Ohio”.
Citizenship Number – If your country has a national ID system, put the number here. Most people will put “NA”. US citizens should not put their Social Security Number.
Religion – Why do they want to know your religion? Read this post for a more detailed answer, but basically this is about identifying what community you come from. This is not about your personal theological beliefs. If your parents were Christian, but you haven’t been to church in 30 years and don’t believe any of it, you should still put Christian. Most North Americans and Europeans should put Christian, even if your personal beliefs are more complicated. Keep it simple. If you are very uncomfortable, just pick “Other” and put “NA”.
Visible Identification Marks – In a country with thousands of Suresh Babus and Parminder Singhs, a mole or scar can be helpful in identification. Pick a visible mole or birthmark or put “none”.
- Below Matriculation = Less than 10th grade
- Graduate = College/University Bachelor’s Degree
- Higher Secondary = High School
- Illiterate = No formal education
- Matriculation = 10th Grade
- Professional = Professional or technical training
- NA Being Minor = Children who are still in school
Passport place of issue – Again, this should read exactly as mentioned in your passport, even if it says something like “Department of State”.
Page 3 Guide
Applicant Address Details
Present Address – This must match exactly with whatever proof of address you submit. It will also be cross-checked electronically to match it with the Indian mission you chose. If you are applying for a visa away from your permanent residency, put your hotel/current address in the present address and then fill out the permanent address section as well.
Father/Mother Details – It might seem strange to you why they would want to know about your parents and your parents’ names. This is a background check of sorts. They mainly want to know if you have any ties to Pakistan. If you have any connection, it will delay your processing time.
Present Occupation – This may seem like a harmless question, but how you answer it could cause a lot of frustration later on. Each category matches to a certain type of visa. If you are applying for a visa other than what your profession matches, you may need to supply additional documentation or else you might not get the visa you want.
- Camera Man, Film Producer, Journalist, Media, News Broadcaster, Press, Publisher, Reporter, TV Producer,and Writer are all matches to the Journalist Visa. Also, if the employer you list is a media company, you may be put in the Journalist visa category.
- College/University Professor and Researcher match to the Research Visa.
- Businessman, Chartered Accountant, Engineer,and Trader match to the Business Visa.
- Diplomat, Official, UN Official match to the Diplomat Visa.
- Student matches to the Student Visa.
- In the case of Housewife and Student, you will need to give the details of your spouse or father.
- If it is a child not in school, put Other.
Other potential red flags that could cause delays or additional documentation:
Charity/Social Worker will be a red flag since the only visa you are allowed to do volunteer work on is the Employment Visa.
Un-employed is usually not a good category to pick. Similarly, Labour and Worker might find some difficulty, but not too likely. Any Military profession might also require some additional documentation.
These rules hold true when you list your employer. Even if you are the IT director for a Media company, you may get earmarked for the Journalist Visa. If you work for a religious organization, they may want more details about you. Similarly, if you are applying for a Business Visa, remember that it is illegal for you to earn money from a company as salary. Therefore, be careful mentioning any “work” you are doing. The Business Visa is for setting up contacts, attending meetings, overseeing work, etc.
What if I want a visa that doesn’t match with my profession or employer?
Choose whichever of these three options you are most comfortable with, although none are guaranteed.
1) Don’t worry about it and submit it anyway. Sometimes these things go through without a problem. If you work in a media-related field, having a Journalist visa is not a bad thing, so you may even want to apply for it the first time. For all other questions, the embassy will get in contact with you if they want more information.
2) Supply an accompanying letter from your organization.
Here are three examples:
If you work for a media company but want a Tourist Visa, have your manager write a letter that says your trip is purely personal and you will not be doing any official business.
If you work for a religious organization, you may need a letter that says you will not engage in any proselytizing.
If you are a professor wanting a tourist visa, you may want to have a letter from the university saying that this trip is purely personal and you will not be doing any official research.
3) Choose the “Other” category for your occupation and give an alternate but truthful name to your profession (i.e. “graphic designer” or “consultant”). This will cause the agent reading the application to consider it on a case-by-case basis and will increase your chances of being approved for the visa of your choice.
Page 4 Guide
Details of Visa Sought
This is where you will insert any additional information that your visa requires.
Duration of Visa – Different countries have different lengths of visa. You should check the embassy in your country to see what options you have. Remember that your validity starts when it is issued, not when you land in India.
Purpose of Visa – It is very important that this matches exactly with the type of visa.
Expected Date Journey – This doesn’t need to be the exact date of your travel if you haven’t booked tickets, just close to the date.
Previous Visa Details/Other Information/SAARC
Countries Visited in Last 10 years – List everything completely here. Not mentioning a country you have a valid visa to can be grounds for refusal.
SAARC Country Visit Details – South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It is a loose confederation of South Asian nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).
Name in India – If you don’t know anyone, put the hotel where you plan to stay.
Photo Upload – It is not necessary to upload a photo, unless you are filling out the e-Tourist Visa. Otherwise, you will be including hard copies in the packet you send to the Consulate.
After Page 4, you will be able to review all the information. Look over it once from your own perspective to make sure there are no errors. Then look over it again from the visa officer’s (aka the Babu’s) perspective to make sure everything is completely filled out and matches nicely.
Once you verify it, click the “Print Form” button, and you can save your application as a PDF. If you gave your email, it will also be sent to you. Look over the PDF since it is in a different format and something new might catch your eye. If you notice any errors at this point, you will need to start the application over again.
If everything looks fine, print the application on two pieces of paper, not back-to-back.
There are two places to sign. On the first page, make sure your signature is completely inside the box underneath your photograph. Do not staple your photograph to the application; use glue or paste. On the second page, sign at the bottom right.
Children between 12-17 should sign their name on the first page. Children younger than 12 can put a thumbprint on the first page.
For all minors, the second page must be signed by both parents. If you mail in your application, it should also be notarized. If you apply in person, it does not need to be notarized.
- http://www.in.ckgs.us/ – Cox and Kings is the current authorized provider for Indian visas out of the US
- http://india.travisa.com/ – Travisa is a third party company that also provides visa and passport services for US citizens
- http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/ – VFS provides Indian visa services in the UK
You are welcome to put your questions in the comments below; I will do my best to respond as I am able. However, I am only giving my opinion in most cases and anything I say should not be taken as legal or professional advice.