India: Clarifications Issued for “Tourist Visa on Arrival” Scheme
India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (‘MHA’) has issued detailed guidelines on various aspects of the “Tourist Visa on Arrival” (‘TVOA’) scheme,1 which we highlight below.
The TVOA scheme was introduced by India’s government in 2010. (For prior coverage, see the following issues of Flash International Executive Alert: 2010-107 (27 May 2010 and 2010-095 (30 April 2010).) Initially, the scheme was applicable to the nationals of five countries. Taking note of the scheme’s popularity, the government, in 2011, extended it to the nationals of six more countries.
- Nationals of the following countries may participate in the scheme: Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.
- Foreign national individuals visiting India for tourism, medical treatment, “casual business,” or to visit friends and relatives, may participate in the scheme.
- TVOA shall not be granted to foreign nationals who have a permanent residence or a permanent occupation in India and to holders of Diplomatic/Official passports.
- Eligible foreign nationals must hold a passport with a minimum validity of six months and a re-entry permit, as required by law.
- The foreign national must be a person of assured financial standing.
Validity and Extension
Under the scheme, a foreign national may be granted a single-entry visa for a maximum period of 30 days.
The visa cannot be extended or converted in India.
Fee and Other Matters
The visa can be obtained by submitting the prescribed application form, one passport-size photograph, and a payment of Indian rupees equivalent to USD 60.
Currently, the TVOA facility is only available in four international airports: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata (Calcutta).
A TVOA can be obtained for a maximum of two visits in a calendar year and there should be a minimum gap of two months between the two visits.
Introduction of the TVOA scheme by the government was a welcome step and the extension to additional countries should be applauded.
It is interesting to note the clarification regarding specified foreign nationals visiting India for short durations (of up to 30 days) for medical or business purposes and their ability to use this TVOA scheme instead of having to obtain a medical or business visa.
It is likely the TVOA scheme will evolve further –- with the addition of more countries, increasing the number of facility counters at other airports, and other moves aimed at making the grant of visas on arrival to foreign nationals seamless.