December 9, 2014
To further boost its tourism sector, India has extended eligibility for a Tourist-Visa-On-Arrival (TVOA) now to include 43 countries. The scheme was initially introduced in January 2010 for nationalities of 5 countries (Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore) and in January 2011 the program was extended to another 6 countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam). It is now available for nationals from the following countries:
Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
In February of this year the Indian government had shared its intentions to open up the possibility for visa on arrival to 180 countries, and therefore a further extension of the scheme can be expected in the (near) future.
While it is called Visa-On-Arrival, an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) must applied for here between 4 and 30 days in advance of the travel date. A clear copy of the applicants’ passport with at least 6 months validity and a recent photograph will need to be uploaded at time of application. Subsequently, a non-refundable fee of US$ 60 will need to be paid at least 4 days prior to date of travel.
Once the fee is paid and approved, the applicant will need to print out the ETA and bring this with them to India. Upon arrival, the traveler will submit his/her biometric data to the immigration authorities and the TVOA will be issued. Note that only the following airports accept the ETA at this time: Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi , Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Trivandrum.
The TVOA is valid for 30 days from date of arrival and is non-extendable and non-convertible. Only two TVOAs can be obtained per year and they cannot be used to travel to Protected/Restricted and Cantonment Areas. On a more positive note, the previous restriction requiring a minimum gap of 2 months between two visits on TVOAs no longer applies.
The TVOA is solely meant for visitors who come to India for recreation, sight-seeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or a casual business visit. It is important to note that no official clarification has been issued defining what constitutes a “casual business visit;” thus, employers should exercise caution in this regard. At this time, Pro-Link GLOBAL recommends that business travelers only use the TVOA option for short business meetings. For other business activities or visits for longer than 30 days a normal business visa should be obtained.
Note that a normal tourist visa does not allow any business activities. Therefore, nationals from any other country than listed above should obtain a business visa for any type of business activity and for any trip duration. As a reminder, work is not allowed on either a business visa or the TVOA – an Employment Visa will be required if an employee will be carrying out any work activities.
Please do not hesitate to contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist when you are in doubt which type of visa will be required for your specific situation.