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Changes to India Tourist Visa and India Business Visa Requirements

Changes to the India visa application process and issuance that affect U.S. citizens were recently made...again. There were changes to both Indian tourist visas and business visas. The information is provided below so that travelers who plan to visit this country will better know what to expect.

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Most Recent Changes to India Visa Application Process

1) All minor applicants for a visa to India must include a copy of their birth certificate. This should not be an original but legible copy.

2) The Indian Embassy has now indicated that the two-month re-entry policy does not apply to business travelers. Should they receive a re-entry prevention stamp it may be ignored.

3) India will no longer accept visa applications in which the applicant is wearing glasses in the photo.

ALERT "NEW DELHI – Indian airports were on high alert Friday after intelligence services received information that al-Qaida-linked militants were plotting to hijack a plane. Airports were placed on alert Thursday after the government received warnings from intelligence agencies, aviation spokeswoman Moushumi Chakravarty said. A report in The Indian Express newspaper, which Chakravarty confirmed, said intelligence officials had uncovered a plot by militants linked to al-Qaida and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group to hijack an Air India or Indian Airlines flight destined for a neighboring South Asian country."

Changes to India Tourist Visa

According to the India Consulate, the one year visa has been discontinued. Tourists can now only request an Indian tourist visa with a validity of either 5 years or 10 years. Both of these visas allow for multiple entries.

There should be a gap of at least two months between visits to the country. If you need to return to India in less than two months, you must seek permission from the Head of Mission. If this is your case, you are required to register within 14 days of your arrival.

Concerning the request for a tourist visa, the purpose of the trip must be clearly indicated. The purpose of the visit must be for recreation, sightseeing and/or visiting family or friends. Applicants who are issued this type of visa cannot engage in any business activities, seek employment or pursue studies or research.

You must have two blank visa pages in a valid passport. The Indian consulate prefers that these pages be back to back.

Changes to India Business Visas

Applicants can no longer obtain a 10-year business visa. You will have to choose between 1-year and 5-year visas. Each allows for multiple entries.

The Indian Consulate is becoming stricter in their requirements and making it more difficult for applications to obtain an India business visa. An important change that business travelers need to be aware of is that both the Business Cover Letter and the Letter of Invitation for a 5-year visa must list future travel dates and describe the activities in which you plan to participate.

It seems that the Indian government wants applicants to prove the need to obtain a 5-year visa rather than a 1-year visa. Due to the recent nature of these changes, it is still not clear how exact one must be when relating future travel plans.

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