Condition of two-month gap remains before a foreign national can return again
In a bid to ensure that genuine tourists visiting India were not affected by cumbersome procedures, the Union Home Ministry has issued revised guidelines on granting tourist visa.
The new guidelines provide only minor relief but the condition of two-month gap remains before a foreign national can return again on a tourist visa, making exceptions only in emergent situations.
According to the Home Ministry, tourist visa is granted to a foreigner who does not have a residence or occupation in India and whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sight-seeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives. The visa was ‘non-extendable and non-convertible' and no other activity was permitted on it, it said.
The revised guidelines and consolidated instructions were sent to all Indian Missions abroad and immigration check posts as well as Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs) and the Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) on April 26. The Home Ministry received representations from various quarters, including the Tourism Ministry, about non-implementation of the guidelines in a uniform manner across the country.
Some foreign nationals holding tourist visas, after initial entry into India, plan to visit another neighbouring country and need to re-enter India within 60 days before finally exiting. Such persons may be permitted up to three entries on the basis of their needs by the Indian Missions or Immigration Posts subject to their submission of a detailed itinerary and supporting documentation such as ticket bookings.
“If the foreign national is already outside his or her country of origin, he/she can also get such an endorsement on his/her passport from the nearest Indian Mission or Immigration Post. However, intimation about the grant of permission may be furnished by the Mission/Post concerned to the Mission/Post from where the original visa was issued,'' the revised guidelines said.
According to the guidelines, in a minor relief to foreign tourists, the immigration authorities in all check posts in the country have been empowered to allow such foreign national on tourist visas arriving in India without specific authorisation from the Indian missions/posts to make a maximum three entries into the country [need based] subject to production of travel itinerary and supporting documentation.
However, the total period of stay in the country during the three entries, counted from the date of first entry into the country, shall not exceed the stay stipulation period of 180 days or 90 days, as the case may be.
‘Gap of two months'
“Once such a foreign national finally exits the country after availing the facility of three entries [within the visa validity period or the stipulated period of 180/90 days as the case may be], there shall be a gap of at least two months from the date of final exit before he/she can come again to India,'' the revised guidelines say.
If any foreign national is required to visit India again within a period of two months after his/her last departure availing the facility of three entries due to any exigent situation, he/she should obtain special permission from the Indian Mission/Post only in emergent situations like death or serious illness in the family, non-availability of connecting flights to return to his/her country of origin or travel to another country using India as a transit point or any other exigent situation which be duly justified with proper documentation.
For persons of Indian origin on Tourist Visa where they need to re-enter the country within the two-month period of their earlier departure from India in emergent cases, the FRROs/FROs may exercise their discretion in allowing such passengers to enter the country after getting convinced of the genuineness of their visit.
The guidelines clarified that the restriction of two months gap for re-entering India does not apply to foreign nationals coming on any other type of visa and also to people of Indian origin holding PIO and OCI cards.
The Home Ministry also explained that spouse and dependent family members of a foreign national coming on long term visas like Employment, Business, Research may be granted only ‘X' visa [not tourist visa] co-terminus with the period of the principal visa holder, Also, persons of Indian origin (PIO), his/her spouse and dependent children may be granted only ‘X' visas subject to producing proof of the PIO status, marriage certificate and birth certificate in respect of children.