Your Perfect Indian Visa
Indian immigration law requires all foreign nationals to apply for an Indian visa in order to enter the country. All candidates who wish to relocate to India for any length of time, whether for a short visit or to immigrate to India on a permanent basis will need to apply for an Indian visa to do so. Here is a quick list, with details of each further down the page:
Indian Tourist Visas
An Indian Tourist visa is usually granted for up to six months. Holders of this type of travel visa, or visit visa as they are often known, may not work during their stay in India and cannot extend their stay. India also offers a transit visa, which permits applicants to transfer through India for a period of up to fifteen days en route to another, final destination. Please scroll down for more details and eligibility criteria.
Indian Business Visas
An Indian business visa can be valid for between three months and five years and requires a letter from a sponsoring Indian company to be submitted along with an introductory letter from the employer in the applicant's country of residence. Business visas can be granted as a single or multiple entry variants and are designed to allow applicants to travel to India in order to pursue business activities, excluding employment, such as attending meetings and business conferences. Please scroll down for more details and eligibility criteria.
Indian Work Permit
In India, work permits, or Indian employment visas as they are sometimes known, may be issued to skilled professionals or to applicants filling a specific role. The requirements for working permits are loosely defined and remain a subjective area of Indian visa services, however, in order to live and work in India, all candidates must secure one. Although work permits may be obtained by either the employer or employee, the 'usual' route is normally employer-led. Please scroll down for more details and eligibility criteria.
Indian Student Visa
Indian Student visas can be issued either for the duration of the applicant's course or for a maximum of five years. Study visa applications require an unconditional offer from a recognized Indian educational institute. Please scroll down for more details and eligibility criteria.
Indian medical visas, often known as 'M' visas allow those travelling to India for medical treatment to enter the country. Medical visas are granted for up to one year; however, they can be extended as necessary if medical evidence can be given to show that this is necessary. Like tourist visas, medical visas are strictly a temporary route and will not provide a means to permanent residency in India. Please scroll down for more details and eligibility criteria.
Persons of Indian Origin (PIO Card)
The PIO scheme applies to people of Indian origin, defined through their birth or residency, or that of their parents or grandparents and offers a long-term Indian visa solution. PIO cards are granted for a period of fifteen years, and allow their holders to enjoy visa-free travel in and out of India. PIO cards allow their holders to freely engage in work or study in India and after the minimum seven-year residency requirement the option to apply for Indian Citizenship is available. Please scroll down for more details and eligibility criteria.
Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)
Overseas Citizenship of India allows Persons of Indian Origin who have obtained citizenship of another nation, to acquire long-term leave to remain in India. Although often referred to as Indian 'Dual Citizenship' it is important to note that India itself does not support dual citizenship and that OCI, whilst offering many benefits, is not a full grant of citizenship. If, after 5 years an OCI holder wishes to apply for full Indian Citizenship, they must renounce their citizenship of any other country.
OCI cards are granted for life and offer many of the benefits of a PIO card with the advantage that holders do not have to register their presence in India, however long their stay may be. However, unlike a PIO card, the spouse of an OCI applicant is not automatically eligible. Please scroll down for more details and eligibility criteria.
Processing Times and Fees
In India, visas vary significantly both in terms of fees and the time taken to process visa applications. Fees and processing times are both subject to change and will differ considerably depending upon the type of Indian entry clearance being sought, and the nationality of the applicant.
Indian Tourist Visas
Indian tourist visas are designed to allow foreign nationals to travel to India for a limited period for the purposes of tourism or to visit family and friends.
A successful Indian tourist visa will usually result in a maximum stay in India of up to six months duration. However, this is not a fixed duration and the validity of Indian visas of this kind may vary according to the nationality of the applicant.
Tourist visas, often known variously as a travel visa, visit visa or visitor visa may be granted to an individual or, where groups of more than four people are travelling together, a collective tourist visa may be issued.
As with visit visas in other destinations, permit holders are not permitted to work during their time in India and permits of this kind cannot be extended or converted. In order to live and work in India for any length of time it will be necessary to apply for an Indian Employment Visa, otherwise known as an Indian Work Permit.
Indian Tourist Visas: Benefits
As with short-term visit visas for many destinations including Australia and the United Kingdom, the key benefit of an Indian tourist visa is that the requirements on the part of the applicant are few. In India, tourist visa applications are specifically designed as a temporary immigration service; beyond the basic requirements that the candidate will return to their country of residence and that they can support themselves financially for the duration of their stay, no further assessment is necessary.
Indian Tourist Visas: Eligibility
In India, immigration authorities require tourist visa applications to be supported by the appropriate paperwork. In addition to the requirements outlined above, applications for Indian travel visas must also fulfil the following criteria:
- Applicants must provide a current passport valid for a minimum of six months. The passport must also contain at least two blank pages.
- A fully completed and signed application form must be accompanied by the appropriate fee and two passport sized photos with the exception of applicants from Pakistan who will require five photographs and may need to undergo an interview.
Indian Transit Visas
For applicants who only need to travel to India en route to another final destination, an Indian Transit visa is also available. This allows applicants to enter India for up to fifteen days in order to transfer through the country. To successfully apply for an Indian visa of this kind, it will be necessary to provide evidence of onward travel i.e. tickets.
Indian Tourist Visas: Spouse & Dependents
In India, tourist visa applications are intended strictly for those who wish to visit the country on a temporary basis and they do not constitute an Indian immigration route. As such they do not make provision for family members of the main applicant to travel to India. Visa applications for relatives or other individuals wishing to join the main applicant will need to be submitted individually.
Indian Business Visas
Indian Work Permits
In India, work permits, or Indian employment visas as they are sometimes known, may be issued to skilled professionals or to applicants filling a specific role.
The requirements for working permits are loosely defined and remain a subjective area of Indian visa services, however, in order to live and work in India, all candidates must secure one.
Although work permits may be obtained by either the employer or employee, the 'usual' route is normally employer-led.
Working permits in India are less defined than work permits in many other countries in that the Indian immigration structure does not present detailed requirements for obtaining one.
Work permits are a very subjective area of Indian visa services, however, in order to live and work in India, all candidates must secure one.
Work permits: Benefits
The key benefit of an Indian employment visa is that it permits a foreign national to live and work in India.Unlike an Indian business visa which permits a range of business activities but excludes the right to undertake employment, a successful work permit application offers the right to begin living and working in India upon arrival.
In addition, unlike short-term India visa services such as a tourist visa, Indian work permits can be extended in increments of one year as required.
Work permits: Eligibility
In India, work permit applications can be submitted through one of two routes.
- The applicant may apply to the Indian Embassy or High Commission in his or her country of residence, or as is more often the case,
- An Indian company offering a position of employment can begin the application process in India on behalf of the candidate. Like a UK work permit application, this employer-led route is the usual route to obtaining an Indian work permit.
In cases where a firm offer of employment from an Indian company is in place, applications will need to be supported by a range of documentation including a completed application form and a current valid passport with recent passport photographs.
In addition, it will be necessary to offer proof of residence and employment, along with documentation to confirm the Indian position of employment is being offered.
Work permits: Intra Company Transfer
In India, visas can be applied for by employees of a foreign company who need to transfer to an Indian branch of the same organisation. The Intra Company Transfer is designed to allow the movement of crucial employees between international branches of a company.
The guidelines for this type of Indian visa are more loosely defined that in other countries, but in general, it is preferred that candidates possess a four-year university degree.
Intra-company transfers or 'E' visas are granted on a case by case basis at the discretion of the Indian migration officer and will, as with work permits in general, take into account the availability of native Indian workers.
Work permits: spouse & dependents
In India, work permits are commonly a long-term immigration solution, therefore immediate family members will be permitted to join the main applicant in India.
Immigration law requires any such dependents who wish to engage in employment to secure their own permit for working in India
Indian Student Visa
Indian Student visas can be issued either for the duration of the applicant's course or for a maximum of five years. Study visa applications require an unconditional offer from a recognized Indian educational institute.
The essential requirement for a study visa is an unconditional offer of admission to a recognised Indian educational institute. Indian study visas only permit their holders to change either their course or institution with specific permission from the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office).
Student Visas: Benefits
In India, visas for study allow a foreign national to study in India for up to five years. Just like the Canadian study visa. Whilst the duration granted is based upon the length of the course, there is no limit to the number of consecutive courses of study that can be undertaken under a single grant.
However, the collective time in India must not exceed the five-year maximum. Study visas issued for less than five years can be extended with the permission of the local FRRO and similarly, the course of study and/or the educational institution may be changed if circumstances are deemed sufficient.
A study visa is normally valid for single or multiple entries to India, although it is possible to obtain a permit for further entries if required.
Student Visas: Eligibility
As outlined above, the main requirement for an Indian student visa is that the applicant is offered a place in a bona-fide course of study from a recognised educational institution in India.
As part of the application, the details of the course and the place of study must be included. In cases where a letter of admission from the educational institution is not available, a provisional student visa will be issued. However, admission must be confirmed within a period of three months, otherwise, the candidate will not be permitted to remain in India.
Immigration law in India does not allow a provisional visa of this kind to be extended.
Applications must also include a range of other supporting documentation including a current and valid passport from the country of residence, with a minimum of six months validity and at least two blank pages. Where applicants will be attending a medical course of study, a letter of approval or no objection certificate must be obtained from the Ministry of Health in India.
For applicants attending courses in engineering or at technical institutions in India, a similar authorisation form the Department of Education will be required.
Student Visas: Spouse and Dependent Immigration
Indian student visas may be granted for up to five years and as such may result in a long-term period of residency in India.
With this in mind, the spouse and/or dependents of a study visa applicant may apply to join them in India for the same duration as that awarded to the main applicant.
Student Visas: Additional Indian Student Visa Information
Student visas cannot be obtained by those already in the country on a tourist visa or another visa type.
As is the case with all Indian visas for long or short-term temporary visits, all student visas issued for a period of 180 days or more will require the applicant to register with the local FRRO within 14 days of arrival.
Indian medical visas, often known as 'M' visas allow those travelling to India for medical treatment to enter the country. Medical visas are granted for up to one year; however, they can be extended as necessary if medical evidence can be given to show that this is necessary.
Like tourist visas, medical visas are strictly a temporary route and will not provide a means to permanent residency in India.
In India, medical visas allow their holders to enter the country for a period of up to one year, extendable by a further twelve month period in some circumstances. The visit must be undertaken with the sole purpose of receiving treatment at a recognised medical institution.
Medical Visas: Benefits
Indian medical or 'M' visas provide a temporary immigration service and are not intended as a route to settlement in India. However, medical visas for India provide a useful means of gaining entry clearance for the specific purpose of receiving medical attention.
Unlike an Indian visit visa which is granted for a maximum of six months, a successful medical visa application may result in a grant of leave to remain in India for up to one year. The duration of this visa is determined by the length of time required to perform the medical treatment concerned.
However, a period of up to 12 months may be permitted, with the facility to extend this by a further 12 months where necessary. Extensions will only be granted on the production of a medical certificate or advice from the appropriate treatment centre. Whilst visas for medical treatment allow up to three entries, a fourth may be permitted in certain circumstances.
Medical Visas: Eligibility
In India, medical visa applications are specifically intended for the purposes outlined above and as such, they will be scrutinised to ensure that they match the requirements of this type of Indian visa service.
Whilst the system is a useful one, it is important to ensure that those temporarily immigrating to India are genuinely doing so in order to receive treatment.
As a result, Indian immigration authorities will require the following criteria to be satisfied:
- It must be demonstrated that the applicant has sought preliminary medical guidance in their country of residence and that they have been advised to pursue specialist treatment.
- The applicant must demonstrate that they are seeking medical attention in a recognised institution which specialises in the treatment of the condition.
- In India, immigration authorities will give priority to 'M' visa applications which relate to certain medical conditions. Serious ailments such as heart problems, organ transplants, ophthalmic disorders and neuro-surgery will be given primary consideration.
- Foreign nationals entering the country through this Indian visa service will be required to register their arrival with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days.
Medical visas: spousal & dependents
A successful medical visa applicant may be accompanied by up to two blood relatives for the duration of their stay in India.
These relatives will be granted an 'MX' visa valid for the same length of time as the primary visa holder's grant of leave. 'MX' visa applicants will need to register their arrival with the local FRRO within 14 days.
Medical visas: registration for Pakistani and Bangladeshi Nationals
In India, visas for medical treatment are available to all foreign nationals; however, applications submitted by Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals will be treated in accordance with India's current policy in respect to these nations. Find out further information on our Indian Work Permit page.
Persons of Indian Origin (PIO Card)
The PIO scheme applies to people of Indian origin, defined through their birth or residency, or that of their parents or grandparents and offers a long-term Indian visa solution.
PIO cards are granted for a period of fifteen years, and allow their holders to enjoy visa-free travel in and out of India.
PIO cards allow their holders to freely engage in work or study in India and after the minimum seven-year residency requirement the option to apply for Indian citizenship is available.
Originally launched in 1999 the Indian PIO Scheme (Person of Indian Origin) is a long-term Indian visa service which is available to any person who has at any time held an Indian passport, was born in India or is the grandchild or great-grandchild of someone born in India and living there as a permanent resident.
The scheme also applies to the spouse of any qualifying applicant as defined above.
The PIO scheme functions as a long-term Indian visa, affording many of the same rights as Indian citizens, with the exception of the right to vote.
The scheme is available to all persons of Indian origin as defined by the eligibility criteria living in most destinations across the world; however, the scheme is not available to applicants resident in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan or Sri Lanka.
PIO Card: Benefits
Unlike India's other long-term immigration service for Indians living overseas, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OIC) scheme, the PIO scheme is not granted for indefinite use although successful applicants may pursue Indian citizenship after 7 years of residing in India.
The PIO scheme is also much quicker to process, taking around 2-4 weeks, rather than several months, as is the case with OIC.
PIO cards are issued for a period of fifteen years and are only valid when accompanied by a valid passport.
A PIO card removes the need to apply for any other Indian visa and allows for hassle-free travel to and from India, on unlimited occasions.
PIO holders are also exempt from the need to register their presence in India with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer / Foreigners Registration Officer (FRRO/FRO) so long as no single visit exceeds 180 days.
PIO Card: Eligibility
The key requirement for this long-term Indian immigration service is that candidates have a qualifying link to India through their own birth or passport status or through a member of their family.
This Indian immigration route is aimed specifically at those who can demonstrate a link to the country.
Where PIO cards were issued under the previous version of the scheme in 1999, these cards will continue to be valid and will have their duration extended by ten years.
In some circumstances, a 'Gratis' PIO card may be granted to a person of Indian origin who is seen to have performed an important role in strengthening relations between Indian and their adopted country.
PIO Card: Spouse & Dependents
In India, immigration through a PIO card is intended as a long-term service.
Although not granted for life, PIO cards are issued for more than a decade at a time, and as such, provisions are made for the immediate family members of a qualifying applicant to relocate to Indian with them.
Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)
The Overseas Citizenship of India scheme or OCI is a long-term Indian Immigration service designed to allow Persons of Indian Origin who have migrated to another country and obtained citizenship of that nation, to acquire long-term leave to remain in India.
Although often referred to as 'Dual Citizenship' this is not in fact what OCI constitutes. For OCI to be granted, the country whose citizenship the applicant possesses must permit dual citizenship. However, India does not support dual citizenship itself. As a result, OCI, though offering many rights to its holders is not the same as full Indian citizenship.
In addition, while OCI holders can apply for full citizenship after the minimum residency requirement of five years, they will need to surrender their citizenship of the foreign country, since India does not allow dual citizenship.
As outlined above, OCI does not constitute full Indian citizenship. Holders do not receive an Indian passport, they cannot hold employment in the Indian Government, and they will not be granted the right to vote.
However, despite these restrictions, OCI does offer a wealth of benefits to successful applicants. Unlike the Persons of Indian Origin Card or PIO, discussed elsewhere in this section, OIC is granted for life and again unlike the PIO card, OIC holders do not have to register their presence with the Indian Police Authorities, even if a single visit exceed 180 days.
The OIC route offers its holder the right to travel to and from India, visa-free for life with the freedom to study or to seek and undertake employment. Overseas citizens receive parity with Indian residents in terms of economic, educational, and financial fields, and after 5 years, with one year spent residing in India, if they choose they may apply for full Indian citizenship. However, it is important to note that this would mean surrendering citizenship of the other country if that country does not support dual citizenship.
Eligibility for Overseas Citizenship of India like the PIO scheme, is based entirely on the Indian origin of the applicant or that of qualifying members of their family. OCI is open to anyone who, after January 26th, 1950, was either born in India, was an Indian Citizen, or was eligible to become one. It also applies to those candidates with a parent or grandparent who matches the description above. However, in all cases, the applicant's country of residence must allow dual citizenship, otherwise, OCI cannot be applied for.
The scheme applies to citizens of any India territories and to minors, however, candidates are not eligible to apply if they have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
OCI: Spouse & Dependents
Unlike the Persons of Indian Origin scheme, OCI does not apply to the spouse of a successful applicant, unless they qualify in their own right. A foreign national who is not eligible will not be granted based on being married to someone who is eligible for OCI.
Foreign-born children of a Person of Indian Origin may be eligible, so long as one of their parents is also eligible. This is an important point to note, as the foreign-born child of two Indian citizens would NOT be eligible. Since Indian citizens are by definition not eligible to apply for overseas citizenship, this would make the foreign-born child ineligible too. However, in such a situation, the child could apply for a PIO card.
Name: Indian Immigration Service
Description: India is an amazing place and so is its immigration policy. To say it is confusing would not do it justice. In our experience while we love India we find more people struggle securing a visa than to any other country in the world. Please leave plenty of time to secure your Indian visa before you travel.