India resumes e-visa service for UK travellers: What is it and how is it different from regular visas?

2 months ago Firstpost

The holiday season is here, which means a lot of travel in the coming days. There’s good news for holidayers from the United Kingdom planning a visit to India. The e-visa is back.

India is all set to resume the e-visa service for UK citizens after it was suspended since the COVID-19 outbreak. The visa website is expected to be up and running soon, the High Commission of India in London informed.

In a video, Vikram K Doraiswami, the High Commissioner to the UK said, “We are rolling out e-visas once again and this service will be made available to you forthwith. (Dates will be announced shortly). That should enable friends from the UK far more easily to India. So welcome back, e-visas are up ahead and all of our other services including visa at your doorstep remain available to you. We look forward to a good winter season in which everyone gets to celebrate their festivals in India which is the land of festivals.”

Team @HCI_London is delighted to confirm that e-Visa facility will again be available for UK nationals travelling to India. System upgrade is underway & the visa website will soon be ready to receive applications from friends in the UK. Here’s a video on the subject. @MEAIndia

— India in the UK (@HCI_London) December 5, 2022

A system upgrade is underway and the visa website will soon be ready to receive applications from friends in the UK, the High Commission of India in London tweeted.

The e-visa service has been reinstated for most nations earlier this year, the notable exceptions being the UK and Canada.

Also read: A taste of their own medicine: How British tourists to India are struggling with sudden visa delays

What is India’s e-visa service?

In 2010, India introduced the Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA) scheme for Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxembourg and New Zealand. In 2014, after the Narendra Modi government came to power, it merged the TVOA with the Electronic Travel Authorisation, creating an e-visa. The facility was expanded in 2017 and 2018.

The electronic visa is available to international travellers for the exclusive purpose of visiting India for a temporary stay.

The e-visa is also not meant for land crossings into India and can be used in airports and seaports mentioned on the visa website of the Government of India. There are 28 airports in India that serve as entry points for e-visa-holding travellers. Five seaports, Mumbai, Kochi, Mormugao, Chennai and New Mangalore are the designated entry points for e-visa holders, reports The Hindu.

Who can apply for the e-visa?

India extends the facility to citizens of 165 countries. However, Pakistani citizens cannot avail of this service and have to apply for a regular visa from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The Chinese can use the service; it is part of a bilateral agreement to help promote people-to-people contact.

These visas are available to foreigners for recreational trips. E-visas are available for certain educational courses on music, dance, traditional medicine and yoga not exceeding six months. The other categories include e-business visas, e-medical visas, e-medical attendant visas, and e-conference visas.

However, these visas are not available for diplomatic and official passport holders and those individuals who are endorsed on a parent’s or a spouse’s passport.

How is an e-visa obtained?

To obtain the e-visa, the traveller needs a six-month passport validity at the time of application. A minimum four days window before the date of arrival should be kept.

These visas are issued for 30 days, a year or five years depending on a specific case and its requirements.

A return ticket and sufficient money to spend once in the country are needed.

India resumes evisa service for UK travellers What is it and how is it different from regular visas

How is the e-visa different from a regular visa?

While the regular visa is issued by India’s diplomatic missions, the e-visa is issued electronically.

In cases, where a visa might require to be cancelled because of a discrepancy in the information or over a controversial issue, the visitor learns of the cancellation on reaching India or at the immigration counter in their country. However, in e-visas, the cancellation can be communicated online, according to a report in The Hindu.

In the past, the e-visa facility was denied to Chinese nationals following the Galwan Valley tension in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with the People’s Liberation Army personnel in June 2020.

Why did India stop e-visas to the UK?

For two years, during the pandemic, India suspended all e-visas. However, in March this year, India restored e-visas to citizens of 156 countries.

The government restored all valid e-tourist visas issued for five years, which were suspended in March 2020, to nationals of 156 countries.

However, the government did not lift the e-visa restrictions for citizens of the UK and Canada in what many said was a reciprocal treatment.

A senior Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had said last September that post-Covid, the UK and Canada posed a lot of restrictions over the entry of Indian nationals in their country and many travellers had to face inconvenience. Several requests were made to the concerned embassies to take up and matter and resolve it but went unheard, according to a report in ANI.

India’s move by many was seen as a tit for tat.

How did the e-visas suspension affect the UK?

In October, the British got a taste of their own medicine as many tourists planning trips to India had to face a long wait for visas. The Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom has started enforcing a rule which requires British citizens to visit visa centres in person.

In the absence of e-visas, more chaos ensued. Many Britons had to cancel or postpone their holiday plans to India after visa agents in the UK received notices that they could no longer apply for tourist visas on behalf of the applicant.

Many believed that India’s decision for stricter visa rules for UK citizens was a fallout of British Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s remarks in October that Indians overstayed in the country.

But now with the resumption of e-visas, all might be in order.

With inputs from agencies

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