Indian govt announces changes in visa rules

Muscat - 

The Indian government has announced changes in the existing rules in order to liberalise, simplify and rationalise the visa regime to encourage more foreign nationals including Omanis, to visit India for tourism, business and other purposes.

As part of this policy initiative, the government has modified the existing ‘e-Tourist Visa’ scheme. In a statement, the Indian Embassy in Muscat said, “The ‘e-Visa’ will now be issued for the specific purpose of the visit viz. ‘e-Tourist Visa’, ‘e-Business Visa’ and ‘e-Medical Visa’. While ‘e-Tourist Visa’ will be issued for visits aimed at recreation, sight-seeing, casual visits and to attend yoga programmes, ‘e-Business Visa’ will be issued for enhancing business activities, including establishing business ventures, purchase or sell commercial products, attending technical meetings, discussions, board meetings, recruitment of manpower etc. Similarly, ‘e-Medical Visa’ will be issued for treatment in India.”

The window for issuing visas under ‘e-Visa’ has also been increased from 30 to 120 days, which means that the applicant can travel to India within 120 days of the issue of ‘e-Visa’. Similarly, the duration of stay under ‘e-Visa’ has also been increased from existing 30 to 60 days. In case of ‘e-Medical Visa’, extension can be granted for stay up to six months on case to case basis by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) concerned.

While under ‘e-Tourist Visa’ and ‘e-Business Visa’, foreigners will now be allowed to undertake two visits as against the current one. Applicants availing the‘e-Medical Visa’ will be issued Triple Entry Visas enabling them to visit India three times on the same visa. ‘e-Visa’, except for ‘e-Medical Visa’, will be non-extendable and non-convertible.

The government has also permitted ‘e-Visa’ holders to enter India through five major ports including Mumbai, Kochi, Goa, Chennai and Mangalore in order to tap the potential of cruise tourism. They are also allowed to enter India through 16 airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Goa, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Gaya, Jaipur, Lucknow, Thiruchirapalli and Varanasi.

With a view to promote visit of Omanis for tourism and business purposes, the government has decided to grant Multiple Entry Tourist and Business Visas valid for a period of five years. Each visit under Tourist Visa, however, shall not exceed 90 days. Tourist Visa holder will also not be required to register himself/herself. Similarly, multi-entry business visas will be valid for five years with continuous stay during each visit not to exceed 180 days. The requirement of registration of Business Visa holders has also been done away with.

In 2016, the Embassy of India in Muscat issued over 72,000 tourist visas and over 900 business visas. In order to further facilitate Omani patients visiting India for treatment, the government has decided to open separate counters at immigration points for speedy and smooth clearance of Medical Visa holders, initially at six international airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Facilitation desks will be available at these airports, which would have Arabic as well as Russian translators to help patients overcome the language barrier.

This facility will be useful for people of Oman visiting India for medical treatment. BLS Oman which is responsible for accepting visa applications has already opened a separate counter at its Muscat centre to facilitate medical visa applicants. In 2016, 11,612 medical visas and 8,491 medical attendant visas were issued. Attendants accompanying patients going to India for treatment are granted Medical Attendant Visa under the existing procedure.

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