Cape Town - Local travellers wanting to visit India will now have to submit biometrics requirements via a scheduled appointment, as of Monday July 17.
Biometric enrolment is now a mandatory part of the India visa application process as is the need to make a visa application appointment in order to submit this, according to a directive from the High Commission of India in Pretoria says VFS Global.
Visitors will need to submit Biometric data, comprising fingerprints and facial image along with a visa application at any of VFS Global's application services' website.
India has improved its visitor processes with an e-Visa or visa on arrival, effective since 1 April 2017 - but this new directive means South Africans will not be able to secure the e-visa - which is valid for 60 days - without the biometrics being taken during the visa application appointment.
The visa on arrival process, available to 160 countries worldwide is meant to have allowed leisure travellers to submit the biometrics on arrival at 24 prescribed airports including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh,Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi - earlier granted through 16 airports) and three ports - Cochin, Goa and Mangalore.
What travellers need to know about India's recent visa changes:
- All visitors to India are legally required to hold a valid visa to travel to India. The Indian Government liberalised its visa regime as of 1 April, 2107 - aiming to bring more tourists and business travellers to the country.
- e-visa has been sub-divided into 3 categories -- e-tourist visa, e-business visa and e-medical visa. Previously e-visas were only for tourists.
- Citizens of 160 countries, including South Africa, are eligible to apply for the India e-Visa (Electronic Visa) - allowing international travellers whose purpose of visiting India is for tourism, recreation, sight-seeing, a casual visit to meet friends or relatives.
- It is not possible to apply for an India e-visa at the airport.
- The e-Visa tourist visa will be valid for 60 days, will cost R167 when applying through VFS Global and must be done via an appointment and submission of biometrics data at one of the application centres located in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
- The window for application under e-visa scheme has been increased from 30 days to 120 days and duration of stay on e-visa has been increased from 30 days to 60 days with double entry on e-tourist and e-business visa and triple entry on e-medical visa.
- Biometrics data will remain valid for 59 months from the date of enrolment and will be exempted from enrolling biometrics for the subsequent 59-month period. However the Indian diplomatic mission reserves the right to change this.
- A print out the India e Visa is all visitor needs to show to the immigration authorities in India, who will then stamp the entry into the country. Your passport must also be valid for at least six months after date of departure.
SEE: Warning: Your passport 'expires' three months before it expires!
- Applicants of Pakistani origin should apply for a traditional visa, not the online visa.
- Separate immigration counters and facilitation desks to assist medical tourists have been provided at airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
- The multiple-entry tourist and business visas for a period of 5 years will now be available to nationals of most of the countries. Upon urgent requests, business visa and medical visa will be granted within 48 hours of application.
- 94 Indian missions having bio-metric enrolment facilities have started giving 5-year long-term tourist and business visa from March. The remaining missions will provide this facility in due course.
- Two added visa categories entitled Intern and film have also been introduced.
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(Source: VFS Global and Hindu Times)