Vinay Kumar

Condition of two-month gap remains before a foreign national can return

NEW DELHI: In a bid to ensure that genuine tourists are not affected by cumbersome procedures, the Union Home Ministry has issued revised guidelines on granting visas.

The new guidelines provide only minor relief and the condition of a two-month gap remains before a foreign national can come again on a tourist visa, making exceptions only in emergent situations.

According to the Home Ministry, a tourist visa is granted to a foreigner who does not have a residence or occupation in India and whose sole objective is recreation or sight-seeing or a casual visit to meet friends and relatives. The visa was ‘non-extendable and non-convertible' and no other activity was permitted on it, the Ministry said.

The revised guidelines and consolidated instructions were sent to all Indian Missions abroad and immigration checkposts as well as the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs) and the Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) on April 26. The Ministry received representations from various quarters, including the Tourism Ministry, about non-implementation of the guidelines uniformly across the country.

Some foreign nationals holding tourist visas, after entry into India, plan to visit a neighbouring country and they 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.

Endorsement

“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 of 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, immigration authorities at all checkposts in the country have been empowered to allow such foreign nationals on tourist visas arriving in India without a specific authorisation from the Indian missions/posts to make a maximum of 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, shall not exceed the stipulation period of 180 or 90 days, as the case may be.

‘Gap of two months'

“Once such a foreign national finally exits the country after availing himself/herself of 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 two months of his/her last departure availing himself/herself of 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 the 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 convincing themselves 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.

‘X' visas

The Home Ministry explained that the spouse and other dependent family members of a foreign national coming on long term visas like Employment, Business, Research may be granted only an ‘X' visa [not tourist visa] co-terminus with the period of the principal visa holder, Also, persons of Indian origin (PIO), their spouses and dependent children may be granted only ‘X' visas subject to their producing proof of the PIO status, marriage certificate and birth certificate in respect of children.