Changes in the Immigration Regime in India as on March 2018
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently made several amendments to the immigration regime in India. Some of the important changes are provided below.
Modified Visa Cancellation Policy
If a foreign national wishes to avail of a short duration visa (conference visa, transit visa, e-visa) to India while in possession of a pre-existing, long term/consular issued Indian visa, the long term visa will not stand cancelled. Instead, the long term visa will be kept on hold for the period of the short duration visa.
Introduction of New Sub-categories of Business and Student Visas
The electronic business visa (e-BV) under the electronic visa (e-visa) scheme, has undergone a change to include visitation for business purposes.
The Business visa has introduced several new sub-categories such as:
- Crew of non-scheduled airlines who operate chartered flights and special flights (B-5);
- Foreign academicians/experts covered under GIAN (B-6);
- Foreign nationals who are partners in the business and/or functioning as Directors of a company (B-7);
- Other miscellaneous categories who are eligible for a business visa and are not covered under any of the sub-categories listed under a business visa (B-8); and
- Foreign nationals who are engaged in commercial sports events in India on contract and receiving a remuneration (including coaches) (B-Sports).
The student visa now includes a new subcategory for students coming to India for theological studies and missionary students.
Change in Permitted Activities
Foreign nationals must strictly adhere to and comply with the purpose of their visit declared at the time of submitting the visa application. However, with the recent amendment, all foreign nationals other than Pakistani nationals coming to India will now be entitled to also avail of the activities permitted under a Tourist visa irrespective of the visa type.
Generally, as part of the visa application procedure, an applicant must choose the appropriate visa sub category from the drop-down list mentioned in the application form. However, if the applicant’s proposed activities are not covered in the sub-categories or is unsure of the appropriate sub-category, the applicant must apply under the broad category of visa. The visa officer will then determine the appropriate and exact sub-category.
Earlier e-visas could not be converted within India. However, Persons of Indian Origin who are on any short (e-visa) or long term issued Indian visa and who are otherwise entitled to an Entry visa, may be eligible for an Entry visa.
Keywords: Visa conversion, Business and student visa, Permitted activities