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Visas and Passports in India

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: September 2013


Wherever you are entering India from, you will need a valid passport. The passport must have at least six months of validity left when you enter. The Indian government body in charge of immigration is the Bureau of Immigration (BOI).


Visa Requirements

In most cases, you will normally need to have a visa stamped onto your passport before you leave your home country. However, if you or your spouse has Indian roots or if you have ever held an Indian passport, you may be eligible to apply for a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Card. The card is quite expensive (for example, US$368 for American citizens), but it is valid for 15 years. PIO card holders do not need a visa to visit, study or work in India and do not need to register in the first month. For more information on how to apply, see this Bureau of Immigration webpage:


Some of India’s neighbouring countries have beneficial visa arrangements. Nepalese and Bhutanese citizens do not require a visa when entering India on land from their home country. Similarly, a citizen of the Maldives intending to visit India for up to 90 days as a tourist does not require a visa, only a valid passport as usual.


Types of Visa

All Indian visas are valid from the date of issue, not the date of arrival. Long-term visa types in India are the Student, Medical, Research, Business, Employment and Entry visas. Details on some of these visa types follow:

Business (B) visa – this is available for businessmen and entrepreneurs for various economic purposes. The maximum period for this visa is five years, though they are typically issued for six months. Rules for Business visas have recently been tightened. Performing actions such as carrying out contract or project work is no longer permitted on a B visa.

Employment (E) visa – this is for foreigners who are to be working or volunteering for an India-registered organisation. This visa is valid for one year. A recently introduced additional requirement to obtain an E visa is that your salary must be at least US$25,000.

Entry (X) visa – this is for other persons who want to stay in India long-term. This includes the spouse and dependants of the holder of another visa type.


Visa Application

In addition to the visa application form, you need:

Note that, in some countries, the visa application process is not handled by the embassy or high commission. This is because the service has been outsourced, to companies such as Travisa and VFS Global. It is therefore wise to check where to you need to apply for a visa. These agencies may  charge you an additional processing fee.


Additional Entry Requirements

Whether you are a foreigner or an Indian national, you will need to fill in an Arrival or Departure Card at Immigration. The card consists of a form which requests basic details such as name, sex, date of birth and nationality. Once completed, you should hand the card to Immigration officers, who will retain it for their records. Pakistani citizens are additionally required to fill in a further visa application on arrival at Immigration.

If you have arrived from a country that the Indian Government considers to be yellow fever endemic, you must produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate else you will be quarantined for six days. Countries that are deemed yellow fever endemic are listed on this BOI webpage:


You will also need to register your presence in India with the authorities soon after your arrival. For more details on registration, see the ‘Settlement, Residence and Citizenship’ section below.




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