The government’s new e-visa initiative will reduce paper work and provide easier visa facilitation for foreigners who visit India for tourism and business purposes
Winning tourists – that’s the major aim of the new government as it gets down to the task of dismantling complicated bureaucracy by bringing in visa-on-arrival or electronic visa (e-visa) for in-bound tourists. The budget for 2014-15 unfolded a slew of initiatives including six-month deadline for implementation of e-visas. The facility of e-visa authorisation is expected to be introduced in nine airports – by December, in time for the peak tourist season – with major source countries like the US, UK, Russia, Canada, France, Australia, Malaysia and Germany likely to be first off the block.
The new e-visa system is expected to provide the following benefits: prevent line-ups in front of the visa desks, at airports, reduce the workload of staff working at airports, save time for staff at Indian consulates and embassies, provide easier visa facilitation for foreigners that visit India for tourism and business purposes and increase the number of the visitors as well as tourism and foreign trade revenue.
Conservative government estimates say that India could receive 1.2 million additional tourists and receive earnings of $2.4 billion by 2015 if the e-visa facility is implemented. The prime minister’s office (PMO) has given nod for e-visa for tourists from about 40 countries by December as part of the visa reforms.
The authorities are planning to include 109 nations once the first phase is successfully implemented. The electronic travel authorisation (ETA) enables foreign travelers to apply for a visa and receive online confirmation within five working days. The ETA will be available for a 30-day period from the day the tourists arrive in India. By early 2015, each of these nine airports can be equipped with the infrastructure necessary to make the e-visa proposal a reality.
The move would catapult India among the top four countries with visa-friendly policies. “The ministry of home affairs, external affairs ministry, the National Security Advisor and all the related agencies have unanimously supported the introduction of electronic travel authorisation,” said officials.
Until now, holidaymakers often had to wait for two weeks or more to receive approval to visit the country. They had to submit a lengthy online form, send the passport to the Indian High Commission along with photos and a pre-paid envelope for the documents to be returned. The application was so