Applying for and obtaining an India visa has been an ever-changing process for the last few years, but it seems like the country finally has a handle on the process.
India visas are currently handled by a third-party company called Cox & Kings. Rather than applying in person, people from the United States are now able to apply for India visas through an online service handled by this company. Though India visas that can be applied for online are referred to as “India Visas on Arrival ETA,” these visas actually need to be applied for before you travel to India, so don’t let the name fool you.
ETA stands for electronic travel authority. It’s just a handy acronym used in the visa world which means that you can apply for your visa online. “Visa on arrival” usually means that you can obtain your visa at customs after arriving in the country, but that isn’t the case here. If you’re applying for a tourist or simple business visa to India, you need to do it online at least four days before your trip, but no more than 30 days before your trip. So, for example, if you’re planning to visit India on May 15, you’ll need to apply for your visa on or before May 11, but no earlier than April 15.
Here are some of the basics to keep in mind:
- People from the United States who are visiting India for business or tourism for 60 days or less are eligible to apply for an India ETA visa.
- People who hold Pakistani passports or who are of Pakistani origin will need to go through the in-person visa application process.
- You must have an active US passport with at least six months of validity left on it in order to obtain your visa.
- You will also need proof of a return ticket or and onward journey ticket as well as sufficient funds to sustain you during your trip to India.
- The visa will be valid for 2 entries over a 60 day period. The 60 day window starts when you enter India for the first time, and you must enter India for the first time in the date range indicated on the visa.
- You can only obtain a maximum of two ETA India visas within the same year.
- You are required to carry a copy of this ETA at the time of your first arrival in India.
- e-Visa is non-extendable, non-convertible & not valid for visiting Protected/Restricted and Cantonment Areas. If you intend to visit Protected/Restricted/Cantonment areas, you would require prior permission from the Civil Authority. Please visit (http://www.mdoner.gov.in/content/rappap-restrictedprotected-area-permit) for more information.
- Biometric details of the applicant will be mandatorily captured at Immigration on arrival in India. Many of our clients have reported that this can be a very long line!
- Applicant can arrive at 24 e-Visa designated airports i.e. Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi and 3 designated seaports (i.e. Cochin, Goa, Mangalore). However, he/she can depart from any of the authorized Immigration Check Posts in India. The second/third (only for e-Medical Visa) entries are to be availed within
- e-Visa is not allowed for employment, NGO/volunteer activities , journalism and conference purposes
- This electronic travel authorization does not entitle you for guaranteed entry into India. Your entry can still be refused at the time of arrival, however we have never had this happen to a client. You must carry YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION CARD if arriving from yellow fever affected countries. Please visit the link to see those areas affected.
You can get a full explanation of the process and complete your application right here. If you have a last-minute trip that is less than four days away, or if you have any other sort of trouble obtaining your India visa, give us a call at (877) 917-9438 and the Swift team will do all that we can to help you.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.