India sees a significant number of foreign tourists arriving in the country throughout the year, every year, and the arrival figures show a steady increase annually. India has much to offer the visitor, and the number of arrivals speaks for itself. Sightseeing, relaxation, and recreational options for the visitor are many and varied. Whether a family holiday, a solo backpacking adventure, an ashram experience, yoga retreat, beach break, or simply a rest for body and soul, India delivers. Business travelers know the investment opportunities offered by the growing services and manufacturing sector, the highly skilled workforce, scientific and IT sector, and the advantages of training and skill enhancement found in India. There can be few culturally rich countries to compare with this ancient civilization that has seen so much over its existence. Academics and historical enthusiasts alike find immense resources and places of interest throughout the country to satisfy their reasons for being in India. With the Himalayas in the North, adventure and mountaineering are catered to. The beaches in the South bring a tropical island aspect to holidaying in India. The Eastern tribal territories and the Western deserts offer untold attractions to allure every type of traveler. From the Karla Caves in Lonavala to the Taj Mahal, Mahatma Gandhi’s homeland, to the national parks.
Between January and November, India welcomed 9,367,424 foreign tourists to its shores. Of this number 2,061,511 held the electronic e-Visa. This means that over 7 million tourists had regular visas issued by the Indian Embassy/Consulate or missions, mostly using VACs or Visa Application Centers around the world.
HOW TO OBTAIN AN INDIAN VISA
To travel to India a foreigner requires travel documents, the most important of which is a passport that is valid for 6 months after arrival, but also a visa relevant to the reason for visiting the country. In 2006 a great many Mission Posts and Indian Consulates abroad outsourced their visa services. These Visa Outsourcing Agencies charge a service fee for the collection and return of applications and travel documents after having the Mission post or Indian Embassy issue and affix the visa. The Government fee charged by the Indian Government for the issue of visas goes to the Mission posts abroad although the Agency handles the applications. The Government of India does not financially benefit from the outsourcing of visa services. The setting up of VACs and outsourcing centers is entirely the responsibility, financially and otherwise, of the service provider and in no way involves the Indian officials.
The Indian government issues travel visas, depending on the reason for visiting India, from Employment to Students visas and 14 others besides.
For those wanting to enter India for short stays of 60 days or less for the purpose of tourism, business or medical reasons, it is as easy as applying for the electronic travel authorization, or e-Visa. The online application procedure is the same regardless of whether applying for a Tourist, Business, or Medical e-Visa.
Online Indian visa services such as Indian Visa Online can assist in the simple 3-step process, starting with the online application followed by the online payment which can be made using any major credit or debit card or through PayPal. A receipt number issued after successful submission conveniently allow for tracking the progress of the online application. Authorization is received via email in PDF format within two to four business days. This e-Visa must be printed out and carried on the applicant for the duration of the trip and is valid for 365 days from the date that the visa is granted.
The visa procedure in India requires applicants visiting for longer than 60 days or for purposes other than tourism, business, or short medical visits, to hold a regular visa. The application must be made through an Indian Consulate or VAC, but starts with the same online application procedure as the e-Visa. It is these visa applications that have been largely outsourced by the Indian Missions abroad. Successful online application results in the receipt of an automatically generated application ID to use for subsequent communication. An appointment is scheduled with the Indian Consulate, and payment must be made. Indian visa service assists with the application process, and the gathering of the supporting documents required. India visa processing takes at least 3 business days, and the visa is included in the passport.
BENEFITS OF USING AGENCIES FOR VISA APPLICATION
Indian Consulates are not always conveniently located for those seeking visas. Reputable agencies who assist with visa renewals or applications are more user-friendly, offer professional assistance often 24/7, and usually speak the required language of both the origin country and India. They do away with necessitating entire days in queues. Indian visa services and VACs know what is required and offer professional and friendly advice and guidance throughout what is often an overwhelming process. These agencies have been providing the India visa service for a long time and know how to get the applications approved quickly, reliably, and proficiently. Agencies are indispensable in assisting with emergency visas, during times when applicants may be under immense stress.
Certain Indian visa services provide additional conveniences at additional fees, such as mobile biometric services for the aged, the wealthy, or the physically challenged. Visa service providers may offer to travel to the applicant, at a fee, notably for large groups of sports players, students, employees, and performance groups.