The new “liberalized” visa regime of India

The Ministry of Home Affairs recently in a press-release (Release ID: 1552720) elucidated the series of steps taken during the last one year in order to liberalize the visa process in India. Some of the major steps being:

  • The Electronic Visa Facility now covers practically all the countries of the world. Foreign nationals of 166 countries can now enjoy this facility at 26 airports and 05 seaports.
  • The foreigner does not have to interact with any Indian official till his arrival at the immigration counter.
  • The Bureau of Immigration (BoI) generally decides within 24-48 hours whether or not to grant an e-visa to a foreigner.
  • Two new categories of e-visa have been introduced recently:
    • e-Conference visa
    • e-Medical Attendant visa
  • E-visa is now available for five categories i.e.
    • Tourist
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Conference
    • Medical attendant.
  • The local Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) have been empowered now to extend duration of electronic visas beyond 60 days upto 90 days.
  • E-visas can now be availed three times in one year against twice in a year earlier.
  • For foreigners who are already in India and who require any consular/visa services like extension of visa, conversion of visa, exit permission or any of the total 27 visa-related services, an online e-FRRO facility has now been launched throughout the country. The foreigners do not have to physically visit the offices of FRROs/FROs. They can apply as well as receive consular/visa services online after making online payment.
  • Improved immigration facilities have been provided at five major seaports where e- Landing Permits are granted to passengers for their onshore site-seeing. The condition of biometric enrolment for such tourists arriving at the ports of Mumbai, Cochin, Mormugao, Chennai & New Mangalore has also been suspended till December, 2020 to ensure faster immigration clearance so that cruise tourists can spend maximum time on shore.
  • Foreign nationals who fall sick during their stay in India can now avail medical treatment without converting their visa into Medical Visa. This has been done with an motive of taking care of sudden medical emergencies.
  • FRROs have been delegated powers for various visa related services like Visa extension, Visa conversion, registration, exit permission, etc.
  • 30 islands of Andaman & Nicobar have been excluded from the Restricted Area Permit regime notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963.
  • Foreigners will also be allowed to visit 11 uninhabited islands, to be notified by Andaman & Nicobar Islands Administration, only for day trips without any Restricted Area Permit. Requirement of registration by foreigners visiting these islands has also been dispensed with.
  • Intern Visa is now available at any time during the course of study. Further, minimum remuneration requirement for grant of intern visa for internship in a company has been reduced from Rs.7.80 lakhs to Rs.3.60 lakhs per annum.
  • For grant of event clearance for international conferences/seminars/workshops, an e-Event Clearance Module has been rolled out in April, 2018.

Source : Press Release by PIB Delhi (14.11.2018 at 4:22 p.m.)

-Tushar Kaushik

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