All countries, except eight, will be offered visas on arrival

13 Feb 14

INDIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? India will soon allow visitors from 180 countries to obtain a visa upon arrival or electronic visa services before arrival.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals from nearly all countries, except eight “prior reference” countries – Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan – will be able to obtain a visa upon arrival or an electronic visa before travel.

  • Implementation timeframe: Visas on arrival and electronic visas will initially be introduced at nine Indian airports by the end of the year.
  • Visas/permits affected: Tourist visas.
  • Who is affected: Tourists and business travelers on narrowly-prescribed trips.
  • Impact on processing times: Reduced processing time for travelers who previously needed to apply for a regular visa.
  • Business impact: The relaxation of visa rules is aimed at facilitating business and tourist travel.

Background: In October, India began pushing forward proposals to expand visas on arrival, for the purpose of boosting tourism. Currently, India offers visas on arrival to 11 countries, including Finland, Japan, Indonesia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam. When the expanded program is rolled out, foreign visitors can obtain a visa upon arrival or apply for an e-visa through a designated website three days before travel. Either type of visa will be valid for a single entry for a 30-day period. India plans to introduce the services at nine airports, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa and Trivandrum, by the end of the year.

“The facility will provide a major boost to the country’s tourism sector. This is historic,” government planning minister Rajiv Shukla told the Times of India.

BAL Analysis: The change will facilitate tourist travel and business travelers on limited activities, such as one-time conferences or quick tours for business purposes. Visas on arrival are highly discretionary; therefore business travelers should generally obtain a business visa before traveling to India rather than risk denial of entry.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in India. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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