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INDIA – e-Tourist Visa extended to 37 More Nationalities; and PIO-OCI Merger Scheme Deadline Extended

The Indian government has extended its e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme to include applicants from a further 37 countries effective 26 February, thus bringing the number of eligible nationalities for the eTV scheme to 150.

In addition, the Indian government has extended the deadline for Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) registrations for all Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card holders from 31 March 2016 to 30 June 2016.

e-Tourist Visa

Who is Eligible?

The eTV is now available to a total of 150 nationalities, including nationals of the following additional countries (unless they are of Pakistani origin or holders of Diplomatic or Official passports):

Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Iceland, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Moldova, Namibia, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

A full list of eligible nationalities can be found here.

Permissible Activities and Duration of Stay

The visa is available to those traveling on leisure, for short duration medical treatment, for a "casual business visit" or to meet friends and relatives. Travellers must show proof of onward travel and sufficient funds.

The definition of "casual business visit" is not clear and if there is any uncertainty over whether the activities to be carried out qualify as a business visit, this should be checked with an immigration adviser.

The eTV is valid for 30 days from the date of arrival in India, is non-extendable, non-convertible and allows a maximum of two visits in a calendar year.

How Does it Work?

This visa applicant must apply online, at least four days before the intended date of arrival to India, for an e-TV. The visa fee (about US$60) should be paid at this time. A digital photograph and copy of the passport information page must be uploaded as part of the application.

The successful applicant should receive their eTV within 72 hours, which they must carry at the time of travel. On arrival in India at one of 16 designated airports, the traveller will go through biometric registration.

OCI Card Registration

the Indian government has extended the deadline for Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) registrations for all Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card holders from 31 March 2016 to 30 June 2016.

The Person of Indian Origin (PIO) scheme was merged with the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) scheme in January 2015. All existing PIO card holders are to be granted OCI status, with lifelong multiple-entry visas and exemption from police registration procedures, on registration for the OCI scheme.

Action Items

  • Review upcoming trips by qualifying nationals and bear in mind that the e-Tourist Visa may be a suitable route in some business travel cases.
  • PIO card holders should register for the OCI scheme by 30 June 2016.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by IKAN Relocations.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.