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Getting a visa for India isn’t too difficult and the time taken to process the visas is relatively short. We do recommend that expats who plan on visiting or moving to India begin by identifying the visa that’s right for their situation and organising the necessary documents, certificates and photographs for the application. It is best to start this as far ahead of time as possible.
Visa regulations for India are subject to change and we recommend consulting the Bureau of Immigration website and contacting the nearest embassy for the latest information.
How to apply for a visa
There are several ways to apply for a visa to enter India, including applying via e-visas, on arrival or at an embassy. Citizens from most countries can apply online for an e-visa, however, for a full list of eligible countries, visit the Indianvisaonline website.
Citizens from Nepal and Bhutan do not need a visa to enter India unless they are arriving from China. Nationals from the Maldives are also entitled to certain exemptions. Some foreign nations may be eligible for a visa on arrival, including those from Japan and South Korea. Foreign nationals who do not meet eligibility criteria must apply through an Indian embassy.
General visa requirements
When applying online, e-visa applications must be submitted at least four days before the intended date of arrival in India. The visa application process is quick, provided applicants have all the necessary documents, and can be completed in 15 minutes. All documents must be in English or translated into English.
Visa fees vary depending on the country of citizenship, type of visa and duration of stay, and are non-refundable
Citizens of certain countries require yellow fever and polio vaccinations and a certified card proving this. Foreign nationals on short-term visas must have enough money to support them during their stay as well as have a return or onward journey ticket. Passport should have at least six months of validity.
Foreign nationals due to stay in India for over 180 days must register with the appropriate Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) as per visa instructions.
Though e-visas don't normally allow for visa extensions, renewals of other visa types and residential permits can be done before the visa expires. Overstaying and exceeding the visa's validity date can result in heavy fines and punishments.
Tourist visas for India
Indian tourist visas are for travellers who want to visit friends or family, or sightsee.
Tourist visas are generally valid for 30 days or one year. Five-year tourist visas are also available, provided varying lengths of continuous stay in the country.
Most foreign nationals will apply for their visa in their home country before they leave – this can either be done at a local application centre or via the online e-visa system. Nationals of certain countries won't need to apply in advance and can instead obtain a visa on arrival in India. Expats should determine which category they belong to well ahead of time.
Student visas for India
Expats attending short-term study courses can apply for student visas. Student visas are valid for the duration of the expat's course or up to five years, though they may be extended. Applicants must provide proof of admission to an Indian institution.
We recommend contacting the nearest Indian embassy for application procedures and specific details on these visas.
Medical visas for India
India is a significant destination for medical tourism as the largely privatised healthcare system offers a high standard of services and relatively low costs.
Medical visas and medical attendant visas are valid for 60 days and allow three entries.
Work visas for India
Expats can apply for an employment visa or business or conference visa to legally work in India – no separate work permit will be needed.
Expats working in India for an organisation or company registered in the country require an employment visa. Expats are eligible for employment visas if they are relocating with a guaranteed offer of employment or via an intra-company transfer.
Employment visas for India are usually valid for one year or the term of the employment contract, though in certain cases they may be granted for two, three or five years. It is possible to renew an employment visa from within India.
Business visas are available for expat entrepreneurs or investors who want to conduct business in India. They must be able to prove that they are in good financial standing and that they have expertise in their field of business.
Business visas are valid for one year with multiple entries. However, continuous stays during each visit must not exceed 180 days. In the event of this, foreign nationals must register with the Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) within two weeks after the 180 days.
Travel to India for a conference, seminar or workshop (whether hosted by a public or private entity) requires a conference visa, entitling stays up to 30 days. These visas are single entry.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
Are you an expat living in India?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to India. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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