New E-visa regime

THE HANS INDIA |   Apr 18,2017 , 05:06 AM IST


A new liberalised E-visa regime came into effect on April 1. The window period for online applications and period of stay in India have simultaneously been enhanced.  On the New Year’s Day, 2010 India launched Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) limited to nationals from five countries Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxembourg and New Zealand.

The facility of TVoA enabled with Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) was launched in September, paving way for online pre-authorisation of visa to nationals from 43 countries entering India through nine designated international airports. The visa could be handed over to them on arrival. It would be a single entry visa valid for 30 days. Initially, the nomenclature TVoA-ETA caused confusion.

Many tourists presumed that the visa would be granted on landing at the airport. Some arrived without applying online or procuring one from local Indian Embassy. It was renamed as e-Tourist Visa April 15, 2015. By the end of 2015, a total of 113 countries had been brought under the scheme’s ambit. By August 2016 the number had gone up to 150.

The number of foreign tourist arrivals to India for various purposes was 7.68 million, 8.03 million and 8.90 million (provisional) during 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Of them the numbers of arrivals on e-Visa were 0.39 lakhs, 4.45 lakhs and 10.80 lakhs for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Tourists from 149 countries availed the e-Visa facility.

The E-visa facility is now available for nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports as well as 3 seaports (Cochin, Goa and Mangalore) to tap cruise tourists from different countries.  Mumbai and Chennai seaports will also be covered under E-visa facility soon.  The window period for application under E-visa scheme has been increased from 30 days to 120 days to allow tourists plan their trip better.

The stay duration has also been increased from 30 days to 60 days with double entry on E-Tourist and E-Business visa and triple entry on E-Medical visa. For the benefit of the medical tourists separate immigration counters and facilitation desks have been provided at some of the Indian airports like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad that receive bulk of such tourists.