As part of the home ministry’s ongoing efforts to simplify the visa regime, the ‘e-tourist visa scheme’ could soon be modified to simply an ‘e-visa scheme’. Moreover, all visas will be clearly codified for visits under different categories and sub-categories, so that immigration officials can easily ascertain the specific purpose of a visitor’s entry into the country. According to sources, visas will be issued under at least 27 codes, with the relevant code clearly printed on each.
“Currently an e-tourist visa can be availed for tourism, casual business visit, casual medical visit and casual meeting with friends. To simplify the visa regime, the e-tourist visa will become simply an e-visa scheme with a relevant code on the e-visa. Moreover, as part of the visa regime simplification, visas will carry specific codes that will designate the category or sub-category under which they are issued.
There will be at least 27 categories or sub-categories, with the corresponding letter codes mentioned on the visas,” a home ministry source said.
“The idea is to enable immigration officials to easily identify the purpose of a visit so that they can make surgical interventions, rather than adopting a random approach that could involve unnecessary questions being asked to a visitor. The codification would also prevent unnecessary hassles for visitors during immigration checks,” said the source.
“The additional manpower required to process visas under the proposed simplified visa regime is projected to be around 1,000 new posts,” added the source.
According to sources, while a visa-on-arrival is currently extended only to Japanese nationals in six designated airports, the facility could be extended to other countries in due course.
While visa-on-arrival facility was earlier offered to citizens of 12 countries — Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Republic of Korea — it was discontinued in November 2014 after the launch of the e-tourist visa scheme.
While e-tourist visa requires a visitor to submit an online application followed by its approval before arrival in India, Japanese nationals are not required to go through this process.
The government had changed the name of its “tourist visa on arrival — enabled by electronic travel authorisation scheme — launched on November 27, 2014, to the e-tourist visa scheme in April 2015. This was because the earlier name led people to presume that the visa was being granted on arrival.
Besides regular visa services, the e-tourist visa scheme is currently available to citizens of 150 countries arriving at 16 airports in India. It requires a traveller to apply online by uploading his photograph and passport page, pay the visa fee online through credit card or debit card, receive the e-tourist visa online and then fly to India.