All foreigners must apply for a visa before arrival in India.* Visa applications can be made in the Indian consular office in your home country or in the country where you currently reside. Allow several weeks for the process to be safe – most visa processes are not complicated, but they may be time-consuming. Your visa will be valid starting from the day the visa is issued.
Required for application
- A completed visa application form
- Current passport valid at least six months from the date of the visa application, with at least two pages free for the visa sticker
- Two 2 inches x 2 inches passport photos
- Proof of address
- Payment for visa fees
- All supporting documents necessary for the type of visa you are seeking
Types of Visas
- Employment Visa: An employment visa is for someone who will work in India as an employee of an Indian company. Spouse and children can follow on a dependent visa. Requires contract from the employer and other supporting documents. It is possible, even likely, to be granted a one-year visa initially, regardless of the length of the work contract. Up to five more years can be added after applying in person at the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Mumbai (on an annual basis).
- Business Visa: A business visa is for brief, multiple visits to India for business purposes, e.g., business meetings, exploring possible business ventures, and recruiting manpower. Most business visas are for three or six months. One year, 2 years, and 5 years, multiple entry visas are available, but the maximum stay granted per visit is 180 days. Spouses and children can apply for “X” visas, which will be valid with the working spouse’s business visa on a co-terminus basis. This requires a notarized sponsor letter from the employer stating the reason for the visit, proof of financial standing and expertise in the specific field of business, and a detailed travel itinerary.
- Spouse or Dependent Visa: A spouse or dependent visa is awarded to the family member(s) of a person entering India on an employment visa. Requires contract from working spouse’s employer.
- Tourist Visa: A tourist visa is for a person visiting India for tourism purposes only. They are usually valid for six months up to 1 year with multiple entry status. There is an 180 day limit per visit.
- Student Visa: A student visa is for students coming to India for advanced studies at a recognized Indian institution. Student visa validity depends on the length of study and is for multiple entries. An admission letter stating proof of acceptance at the institution and providing evidence of financial details for the student’s stay in India is required. For medical courses, a letter from the Ministry of Health in India must be submitted. For graduate and post-graduate engineering courses, a letter from the Department of Education must be submitted.
- Research Visa: A research visa is for professors, researchers, and scholars traveling to India for seminars, research, and conferences. You must apply at least six weeks before departing for India. The visa will be valid for the duration of the research period only. Foreign researchers must submit information about the subject of research, places to be visited, financial details, and a letter of admission from a recognized educational institution. Foreign professors must submit a letter of invitation from an educational institution and seven copies of the research proforma. Scholars attending conferences must submit an official invitation to the conference and seven copies of the research proforma.
- Journalist Visa: A journalist visa is for professional journalists and photographers traveling to India. Journalist visas are valid for up to three months and take at least 3-5 days to process.
- Missionaries Visa: A missionary visa is for a person entering India for religious reasons. It is for single entry only and the validity length is subject to the Indian government’s approval. Three copies of a sponsorship letter stating the reason for travel in India and the nature of the work to be done are required. Apply for this type of visa far in advance because it can take several months to process.
- Entry or “X” visa: This visa is for all other purposes for visiting India not covered by the categories above. If you are going to India for an internship or to volunteer, for example, the process is similar to applying for an employment visa – a sponsorship letter from the company you are interning or volunteering for and a contract would be required. For special cases, it is best to contact your local Indian Consulate to see what kinds of documents are required.
- Remember that your visa is valid from the day the visa is issued, not from the day that you enter India.
- At the time of update, May 2013, it is illegal for foreigners to retire in India, so there are no retirement visas available.
- If you require a different type of visa once in India, you will need to leave the country, apply for the new type of visa in your home country, and re-enter.
*Nepalese and Bhutanese do not require a visa to enter India.