All foreigners who wish to visit India are required a valid passport, accredited travel documents, and a valid visa issued by Indian Mission in the applicant’s country of residence. Foreign nationals have various reasons for coming to India such as business, social visit, religious exposure, investment, studies, mass media and permanent residency. Foreigners are required to enter the country only through airport or authorized check post. All individuals who enter or depart India by air or sea should provide a true statement of particulars distinguishing it in form ‘D’ embarkation card.India Immigration

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Central Government are among the local agencies that control the admission and stay of foreign nationals. The civil authority has the right to impose restrictions or deny entry to any foreigner in India such as in the case of missing valid passport, and the presence of mental or physical disease among others. Entry is prejudicial to the country’s interests or conviction for an extradition offence.

This matter was discussed in a post last August 17, 2009 in the Australia Expat Forum :

There are two options :-

1. apply with RPO ( from where ur passport was issued)---- depending upon RPO, either apssport will sent with PCC to your old address or passport with PCC will be handover on the same day--- pcc will take one week max

2. Apply with RPO , where u r residing now ---(No need to change the address ) -- PCC will take 30 days around... you have to have address proof of your latest address and police verification will also be done.

Immigration Laws

The foreign nationals’ stay, activities, and departure are controlled by the Acts passed by the Indian Parliament and the rules set by the Central Government from time to time. The Passports (Entry into India) Act, 1967 empowers the Central Government to require foreigners to have valid passports before entering the country. This also prohibits entry of individuals who do not have a valid passport issued. The Foreigners Act in 1946 (amended time and again) provides authority to the Central Government regarding the entry, presence and departure of foreigners in India.

The Citizen Act, 1955 (amended time and again) manages the acquisition and termination of Indian citizenship. The Immigration (Carriers’ Liability) Act, 2000 makes carriers liable for passengers who enter the country illegally per the provisions of Passport Act, 1920. The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 provided Tribunals to be established to fairly determine whether a person is an illegal migrant or otherwise. The Central Government will then act appropriately.

Thus, the term of the visa may be long term or more than 180 days, student visas, research visas, employment and missionary need to be registered at least fourteen days prior to arrival in India.

Visa Immigration Services

All foreigners are required to have a valid visa, passport and travel documents before entering India. However, Nepalese and Bhutanese citizens are not required yet still need to provide documents for their identification. Visitors are subject to immigration check upon arrival at either airport or authorized check post. Military installations and areas, research organizations and defense organizations are considered protected areas, so permits will not be issued to foreigners, whether or not they possess a valid visa, unless their purpose is officially related to the areas.

Foreign nationals who possess a valid visa for less than one (1) year and wish to convert it to a visa valid for a longer period of time should report to the Ministry of Home Affairs for visa extension or conversion. Employment visas and work permits can be extended. Foreign nationals who wish to stay in India longer than the indicated period in their visas should apply for stay extension ninety (90) days before the residential permit expires. FROs or Foreign Registration Officers have been granted limited powers by the Central Government to grant stay extension to foreigners.

The Bureau of Immigration or BOI is responsible for immigration services at major Indian International Airports and foreigners’ registration work in five major cities. Field officers or FRROs or Foreigners Regional Registration Officers are tasked to handle immigration and registration activities at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Amritsar. Concerned District Superintendents of Police support the FRROs and serve as FROs in all states throughout India.

Registration is required for foreign nationals who enter India on a long term stay and will be issued a visa valid for more than one hundred eight (180) days. Visitors who visit to study Vedic culture, yoga, Indian music, dances and culinary arts should register as students. Others who come for research, missionary work, vocational purposes, employment, medical reasons, etc. should indicate the purpose of visit specifically and register within fourteen (14) days of arrival in India.

Foreign nationals visiting India on a long term stay for other reasons including business will not be required to register if they do not plan to stay for more than one hundred eight (180) days on every visit. If the stay spans more than 180 days, individuals should register well before the 180 days expire. Within twenty-four (24) hours of arrival, Pakistan nationals are required to register while Afghanistan nationals are required to register within seven (7) days of arrival in India. Children below 16 years of age do not need to register on any type of visa.

Foreigners can register with the FRROs located in any of the 5 major cities or the FRO cum District SP located in other places where they plan to stay. However, foreigners do not need to register on every visit as long as they revisit on their previously registered visa. If a new passport is acquired during the validity of the registration and visa, the visa should be transferred on to the new passport from FRRO/FRO. Service fee of Rs.235 is levied, with the exemption of gratis visa regime nationals.

Citizens of most countries except Bhutan and Nepal are required to obtain a visa to get into India. The visa is valid from the date of issue and not on the date of entry.

Types of Visas

Tourist Visa

This is issued to travelers and visitors who wish to enter India for social visits, pleasure, leisure, tours, sightseeing, funeral and other private purposes. Validity of the visa lasts anywhere from six (6) months, one (1) year, five (5) years to ten (10) years with multiple entries. Only US citizens can acquire 10-year tourist visas.

Business Visa

This is issued to foreign nationals who wish to enter India for business purposes, seminars, training, research, investment, transactions, business contracts or commercial contacts with India-based companies. The visa is valid anywhere from six (6) months, one (1) year, five (5) years to ten (10) years with multiple entries. Foreigners who have set up or plan to set up joint ventures in India is eligible for 10-year multiple entry business visas.

Student Visa

This is issued to foreigners who wish to enter India to pursue studies, research and advanced studies in India-based universities, colleges, schools, educational institutions and academies. Duration will depend on how long the school requires.

Transit Visa

This is issued to foreigners who solely intend to travel through India to reach the next destination. Visitors are not allowed to change the purpose of stay and can only remain in the country for a maximum of three (3) days. Otherwise, an appropriate visa is required.

Employment Visa

This is issued to foreigners who enter India to work. Duration will depend on the contract period.

India Transfer Visa

This is a valid visa transferred from your expired U.S. passport into a new one.

Types of Permits

Restricted Area Permit

Possessing a valid visa is not enough to access restricted areas such as military areas, research organizations and defense agencies. Visitors who intend to get a Restricted Area Permit are required to fill out special forms and apply in advance since clearances are needed before a permit can be approved and issued to visit the areas. It takes a minimum of six to eight weeks to receive clearances from the Government of India. The Acts passed by the Indian Parliament and set rules by the Central Government from time to time control the entry, stay, activities and departure of foreigners in such areas.

Landing Permit

A tourist group comprised of four or more members arriving in India by air, ship or a scheduled or chartered flight may be given a permit for collective landing. This is valid for up to thirty (30) days and granted by the immigration authorities on landing, provided that the Government of India recognizes the travel agency sponsoring the group and that a pre-drawn itinerary is shown together with passport details and travel documents of all members.

Children of foreigners of Indian origin below 12 years of age without a visa may be given a landing permit by the immigration authorities with a validity period lasting up to ninety (90) days to see family and relatives.

Work Permit

Work permits are also frequently considered as employment visas. These are issued to skilled professionals with pre-drawn contracts from existing India-based companies. Foreign nationals can submit work permit applications via:

•    The Indian Embassy or High Commission in the applicant’s country of residence
•    The India-based company offering the position, which will start the application process on behalf of the applicant.

If the applicant already has a firm offer of employment in place in an India-based company, the application may also require support documentation such as a completed application form, current valid passport with recent photos and identification files.

Foreign nationals may also have to show proof of the company offer, employment, and residence. In some cases, foreigners may be required to transfer to an India-based branch of the same company or organization that needs a work permit application. This type of transfer is handled on a case-to-case basis by the Indian migration officer. Immigrants issued work permits are also able to extend the privilege to their spouse and dependent family members, but they have to secure their permits independently.