All foreign nationals wishing to enter India must hold a valid visa issued by an Indian Embassy outside of India (preferably from their native country), as well as ensure that their passport is valid for a minimum of 190 days at the time of applying. It is recommended to apply 4-6 weeks prior to departure, however check with your local Indian Embassy or Consulate for their specific guidelines and processing times.

Applying for an Indian visa offers a first glimpse of Indian bureaucracy. It can be a mildly frustrating experience, since forms and requirements often change, queues can be lengthy and the period of stay granted can be arbitrary. Be sure to double-check all dates and important details, such as your name, to ensure appropriate spelling and accuracy.

Visa extensions and change of visa categories can be difficult and/or not permitted so it is best to obtain the appropriate visa prior to arrival. It should also be noted that expats who do not have an employment visa will not be able to remit their salary outside of India.

The Indian Government issues the following types of visas through their embassies and consulates:

Visa type What it means Documents required
Employment Visa A multiple entry employment visa is granted on a case by case basis to foreign nationals who have secured employment in India prior to arrival. – A letter of recommendation from overseas company and employment letter from the Indian company stating the expected duration of employment
Business Visa A business visa is granted to foreign nationals who will be visiting India for business and/or economic purposes. Typically the applicant is self-employed or employed by a non-Indian entity and wishing to do business with an Indian counterpart. Multiple entry visas are issued for one- and five-year periods. – A letter of invitation from the Indian company
– A letter from the applicant’s overseas employer stating the exact purpose of the visit, and the expected duration
Tourist Visa A tourist visa is issued to persons visiting India for non-economic purposes, such as sight seeing. Tourist visas are issued for three to six months typically, can rarely be extended, and a two-month waiting period between visits is enforced (even if the visa is still valid).
Student Visa A student visa is granted to persons coming to India to study at a recognized university or educational institution. A mulitple entry visa is granted for the duration of the academic session. – Proof of admission from Indian educational institution
– Proof of financial means
– Foreign nationals coming to India on an employment visa can obtain a student visa for their children before coming to India
Entry (X) Visa An entry (X) visa is an ‘other’ category, which is awarded to foreign nationals that are coming to India for an extended period for a particular purpose, such as to participate in a conference, do volunteer work and/or are seeking permanent residence but do not belong to any of the above categories. Foreign nationals coming to India on an employment visa may obtain an x-visa for their spouses/dependents. A multiple entry visa may be issued for 6-month, 1-year and 5-year periods. If this visa is given to a spouse or child of someone with a business or employment visa, the entry visa will expire on the same day as the principal visa holder. – Proof of purpose for long-term stay is required