New Indian e-Visa Scheme Makes it Easier for “Casual Business” Visits

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DELHI – Last week, India loosened its electronic visa policies for visitors from 43 nations including Australia, Brazil, Germany, and the U.S.  Although the changes are chiefly aimed at boosting international tourist visits to the country, the new e-visa can also be used for a “casual business” visit and should encourage more businesses to travel to the country.

The new visa is part of an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Scheme which requires visitors to apply online at least four days before leaving for India.  The visitor can then print a copy of the authorization and take it directly to immigration authorities.

Further restrictions include:

  • It is valid for 30 days and can only be obtained twice per year;
  • The ETA will only be accepted at the following international airports: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvanathapuram, Kochi and Goa.

Additionally, persons must pay a  US $60 fee and upload a passport photo and scan of the their passport.

Due to its restrictions, the e-visa will have the most business related use for travelers attending conferences and other short term business visits.  Business travelers could be denied entry for the visa on arrival if the Indian border officer decides that the work is outside the definition of “casual business”.

RELATED: How to Navigate India’s Employment Visa Procedures

Casual business is usually defined as a one-time meeting or a tour to decide whether to work in India.  Travelers that will undertake more extensive business visits should get a Business visa in order to mitigate any risk.

The relaxation of these visa rules shows that Prime Minister Modi is interested in making it easier for foreigners to get into India. Plans have already been announced to expand the scheme for other countries in a phased manner, with a home ministry official saying that many other nations will eventually be covered under the e-visa regime.

In addition, a government planning commission proposed to reduce the number of visa categories from 16 to three (business, employment and visitor) to create a simplified online visa application system.

The Australia India Business Council (AIBC) has said that the new e-visa scheme will encourage more businesses to travel to India and will help spur its economic growth.

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