India Visa on arrival extends to 43 more countries from tomorrow

Tourists can visit India in a much easier way- for the much awaited visa-on-arrival programme is likely to be rolled out to 43 countries from 27th November 2014.

In February, India announced its intent to extend the Visa-on arrival programme to tourists from 180 countries. , including the U.K., U.S. and China, in a bid to accelerate slow growth in tourism.

This single-entry tourist visa is valid for 30 days, and a traveller may apply twice in a year. Business visas are not covered in the current phase of the scheme, but might be included at a later date. The visa on arrival will cost $60.

The United States, Australia and Fiji are among the countries whose citizens are eligible for the expanded program. The United Kingdom is likely to be included in a later phase. The full list of countries covered by the expansion is not yet available.

Until now, the program, which was launched in 2010, has only been available to citizens of 12 countries, including Finland, Singapore, South Korea and Japan. These visas are valid for 30 days. Citizens from other countries could get multi-entry tourist visas valid for six months but had to apply to an Indian embassy to do so.

visa-on-arrival-counter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently made the announcement in this regard. A draft Bill for amending the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, that would enable merger of the PIO (Person of Indian Origin) and OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) schemes, is expected to be brought to the Cabinet for approval, according to a release from the Prime Minister’s Office. The process is quick and simple. One needs to submit an online application, which must include a copy of their passport and a photograph. A screening process would follow, and within 72 hours, the applicant will know if his/her visa application has been approved. Once that’s done, the applicant needs to print a copy of the “electronic travel authorization” they receive via email, and take it with them to present when they land at one of nine international airports across India.

At the airport, an immigration official will take the applicant’s fingerprint and if everything is compliant, he/she will be cleared to enter the country.

The visas on arrival encouraged more tourists to visit India, said the tourism ministry in a statement. From January to October in 2014, almost 22,000 visas on arrival were issued, a 39.5% increase from the nearly 16,000 for the same period in 2013.

Sharanya Bharathwaj

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