India is catching up with rest of the world, have opened E-Visa facility for nationals from 43 countries. The E-Visa scheme will eventually be extended to over 150 countries, aimed to put India high to attract travelers from across the world for both business and leisure.
Until now, nationals from these countries had to visit Indian Consulate/Mission or at the Indian Visa Application Center (IVAC) with documents and had to wait anywhere between several days to several weeks. Easing of Visa Application process is the first step to attract travelers (both business and leisure) into India. This was a major deterrent for potential visitors who were not only annoyed with the slow process but at times with the unruly behavior of the staff at consulates.
The 43 countries that are going first with E-Visa to India are:
The opening of Visa is a great opportunity for India to attract foreign visitors and boost tourism opportunities into the country. Under the scheme, tourists will be able to pick up their visas from nine Indian airports namely – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram & Goa. Tourists can apply twice a year for 30-day visas which cannot be extended. Tourists must also have a return ticket. The facility is available to foreigners whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sightseeing, short duration medical treatment, casual business visit… and not valid for any other purpose. Govt. promises that Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) will be given to traveler within 72 hours when application is submitted online and a fee is paid.
The Process works as follows:
- Eligible Foreign National from one of the 43 countries to apply for Visa Online
- Pay the fee online and various forms of payments are introduced including Debit/Credit Cards.
- Once application approved, applicant will receive an email with ETA.
- A printout of ETA is all that applicant needs to show to the immigration authorizes in India at one of the 9 airports listed here.
- Application of E-Visa should be submitted minimum of 4 days in advance of the date of arrival with a window of returning back within 30 days
- Return travel ticket is must for E-visa
- Visa Fee is fixed at US$62
Govt. of India has also removed the requirement of two months gap rule between two consecutive visits, has introduced payment of Visa fee through debit/Credit Cards, doing away with filing of embarkation card by outgoing foreigners and disembarkation card by incoming Indians. With the amount of tourism diversity India has to offer, it has much less tourist arrival compared to Thailand and Malaysia.
With much touted Make In India campaign, proposed law discouraging criminals to exploit foreign tourist and opening of Visa – it seems govt. of India is serious about making travel to the country easy and boosting tourism contribution in GDP which currently stands at 7%.
Govt. of India has taken the first step of making it easy for foreigners to travel to India, but at the same time they also need to try and get reciprocity from all these countries to liberalize the process of obtaining Visa for Indians for their respective countries. This will further give boost to overall travel industry of our country. As on May 2014, Indians can only travel to 52 countries where either they do not need Visa or Visa is on Arrival. If we compare these numbers with less developed economies like (Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ecuador, Serbia and Estonia among others), nationals of all these countries enjoy greater convenience in terms of Visa requirements to countries across the world.
For now, India and Indians need to just remember one thing – “Atithi Devo Bhavah, means Guest become God” and welcome all travelers into India with respect, honesty and smile.