The government of India has announced that the tourist visa for India is now only valid for a stay of up to 30 days. The validity of the visa itself has also been shortened to 120 days.
India open for tourists again
Earlier this month, the government of India announced that tourists were welcome again in India. According to the government, the situation in the country regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is now safe enough to get the tourism industry up and running again. Travellers on charter flights will be allowed back into the country from 15 October, those on commercial flights from 15 November. However, India has also made far-reaching changes to its visa system. These have a major impact on both new tourist visas and visas that have been issued earlier.
Tourist visa validity has changed
In April 2019, India had further extended the validity period of tourist e-visas to 365 days. Within these 365 days, visitors were allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 90 or 180 days, depending on their nationality. This is no longer the case. The Indian government has announced that travellers with a tourist visa are now allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 30 days. The visa must also be used within 120 days or it will expire.
Another change made by the Indian government is that the visa is now a "single-entry" visa. This means that the visa can only be used for one trip to the country. In the past, the online tourist visa allowed travellers to enter the country multiple times. This is no longer the case. If you leave the country and return at a later date, you must apply for a new visa, even if your current visa is still valid. The visa cannot be renewed in India either.
This decision is leading to criticism from the tourism industry. Tour operators say that a maximum stay of 30 days is far too short. Tourists who travel to India often also visit neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka. The new visa rules would make this virtually impossible.
Visas that were granted earlier are now invalid
India has also announced that tourist visas that had already been granted are now invalid. All tourist visas granted before 6 October 2021 can no longer be used. Tourists who want to travel to India have to submit a new application.
Travellers entering India by land cannot apply for a tourist visa. They must enter India by air or sea routes. This affects many travellers, as India shares its borders with relatively many other countries.
Online visa or paper visa?
There are two types of tourist visa for India: the e-visa that can be applied for online and the paper/physical visa that has to be stamped into the passport. Both the tourist e-visa and the paper tourist visa are subject to Indiaʼs new visa rules. The e-visa is generally more popular as the application process is much simpler. On the other hand, more nationalities can apply for the paper visa. For the e-visa only travellers of certain nationalities are eligible.
Both British and Irish citizens can use the e-visa. They do not have to go to the embassy to have their passports stamped.