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Travelling to India this Holiday Season – Know the Tourist Visa Rules and Restrictions

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If you are planning a trip to India this holiday season or in the near future, it is important to keep in the mind the recent rules and restrictions imposed by the Indian Government on Indian tourist visa holders.

Indian tourist visas are granted for the purposes of visiting India to sight-see or to meet with relatives and friends and visitors on a tourist visa are not allowed to study, work, or set up a business in India or for that matter, convert the visa into another type of visa.

The recent change in rules has been imposed by the Indian government with a view to curb abuse and misuse of the tourist visa. The recent regulations require foreign nationals, including US passport holders, with multiple entry visas, to leave a gap of at least two months between each visit to India.  If for whatever reason, a visitor needs to visit India again within a period of 2 months from the last departure, a special permission from the Mission or Post is required before entry into India will be allowed.  The gap of two months applies between two visits to all tourist visa holders.

This visa regulation particularly affects foreign nationals when families are traveling to India for holidays and avail the opportunity to visit other neighboring counties for tourism to popular destinations such as Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.  and then they re-enter India within less than 2 months from the last departure.  These foreign nationals, after initial entry into India, may be permitted two or three entries provided they have obtained prior permission by the Indian Mission/Post before departure from their home country. If they are already in India and then make plans to travel outside of India then in some circumstances permission can be sought within India. Moreover, the Indian government has clarified that even if a traveler’s passport is not stamped at port of entry and the traveler tries to re-enter within two months the same restrictions are applicable and the traveler will not be allowed to enter India.

The good news is that this re-entry restriction is not applicable to PIO/OCI card holders or to those foreign nationals holding business, employment and other such categories of visas. For those US passport holders that have been contemplating getting a PIO or OCI card,  it is advisable to get the PIO or an OCI card as it can facilitate travel to India.

As India’s immigration laws are constantly changing and while this information is accurate at that the time of writing, readers are advised to check the most up to date rules and regulations before traveling.

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Written by MithrasLaw

December 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

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