Breaking news: It was published in leading Indian newspapers on 8 October that India’s visa regime will be changing to become easier for tourists and pensioners.
Visa on Arrival
New Delhi: India has initiated the process for making it a more tourist-friendly destination, which includes extending on-arrival visa for 40 more countries, simplifying online visa, and attracting senior citizen foreign visitors to more airports.
The consensus was brought on these issues during a high level meeting convened on Sunday by the Planning Commission.
“There was a consensus about initiating the process to make India a tourist-friendly country and extending the on-arrival visa facility to around 40 more countries,” planning minister Rajeev Shukla, who convened the meeting, said.
Another senior Planning Commission official aware of the development said no timelines had been put in place as yet and they would be determined after the home ministry gives “broad support” to the proposals of this meeting.
The countries for which visa-on-arrival facility would be extended include the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Poland, Norway and Ireland.
Under the visa-on-arrival system, India already has agreement with different countries, including Japan, Finland, Singapore, Indonesia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar.
Besides relaxing visa norms, Shukla said: “There was broad consensus on simplifying online visa system, relaxing visa regime for all types of conferences and senior citizen foreign tourist or foreign pensioners.”
It was also reported that you will be able to apply for a visa online before you travel, further easing the process.
One reason given for this change is India’s need for foreign exchange. It is believed that liberalizing the visa regime will provide significant help. In 2012, India received 6.58 million foreign tourists, and over US$17 billion in foreign exchange.
Visa-on-Arrival (VoA) is already used to a small extent, and its use is growing rapidly. A growth of 29.4 per cent has been recorded in the number of tourists using the tourist VoA scheme during the period January to August, 2013.
Changes in residency permits for foreigners
In addition, India is rolling out a new system for foreigners staying in India longer than the normal 6-month stay. Already any foreigner staying longer than six months had to register with the Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO). Also, those holding a Student Visa, Medical Visa, Research Visa and Employment Visa have to register with the FRO within 14 days of arrival in India. This process has been done through the local Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO), usually located at the district police offices. This has been a manual process, with different results in different parts of India. They are trying to modernize the process, so that you apply online and get your appointment with the local FRRO. Here is a new web page to use for more information, and to get started on the process: http://indianfrro.gov.in/frro/ . Instructions are on this page, and on the bottom of the page is a link to use to fill out the form and to request an FRRO appointment.
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