India Introduces Online Visa Services
Foreigners can now avail of online visa services from India. This includes Indians who have taken up citizenship of a foreign country. However, this is not applicable to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders. Only if the applicant is seeking visa needs to go through the online visa services. Under the immigration, visa, foreigner’s registration and tracking project, this online visa facility improves efficiency and transparency to the international travel system.
Already functional in 163 Indian Missions around the world this also includes a biometric enrollment program which facilitates easy sharing and monitoring of visa data in real time.
Becoming an active part of the global travel infrastructure is integral to India and now most services are also being offered online to meet this growing need. Earlier e-visas were implemented for nationals of 163 countries for entry into India through 25 international airports and five sea-ports. While this was extended only to leisure and medical tourists, it is now being considered for business travelers to India as well. All e-visas can be applied 120 days in advance and is valid for 60 days with a twin entry option.
Another move came to facilitate cruise travels in and around India wherein international tourists with an e-visa are exempted from requirements of the biometric enrolment altogether until December 31, 2020. Besides making immigration formalities among cruisers to Indian ports much more time efficient, it has also encouraged cruise-lines to include India in their itinerary. This is already active in Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Kochi and Chennai.
If you are looking to travel to India on a visa, you may –
- Identify if the nature of your travel coincides with visa requirements, i.e. medical tourism or leisure;
- Fill out the visa application form online;
- Have passport sized photographs of all applicants available;
- Have a current and valid passport;
- Follow through is biometrics are requested;
- Once applied for, the visa is issued and sent via email.
For NRIs who are holding Person of Indian Origin cards (PIO), the Indian government has issued a memo to convert PIO to OCI cards before September end since they would be considered an invalid travel document after that.