Foreign nationals who are entering India need to get hold of valid international travel documents in the form of a national passport and a valid visa. Tourists, including children, who arrive in the country without a visa with the right validity dates and number of entries can immediately be deported, so make sure that you are in possession of a valid visa before embarking on your journey to India.
Once you have arrived at the airport, there is no need for you to pay for immigration facilities. Except if you are from countries like Nepal and Bhutan which do not require a visa to enter the Indian territory, as well as Maldives which does not require a visa to enter the country for up to 90 days, all nationals coming from other countries need to present their valid visa before traveling to India.
In case of foreigners who need to go to India due to emergency situations like death or serious illness, there exists a provision which grants Temporary Landing Facility (TLF) or Temporary Landing Permit (TLP), allowing entry to India without an Indian visa but with a fee of US$40.
Foreign tourists who travel in groups of four or more arriving either by sea or air and are sponsored by legitimate Indian travel agencies can also be granted a collective landing permit for a certain period of time. However, this can only be granted through a special request written by the Indian travel agency to the immigration officer, containing all the personal and passport details of each member of the group, as well as an expression of intent to conduct the traveling group given their pre-drawn itinerary. The intent should also indicate that no member of the group will be allowed to leave the group to go to destinations other than the ones stipulated in the itinerary.
The abovementioned provisions cannot be granted to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Algeria nationals.
Where can I apply for an Indian visa?
Since May 21, 2014, Cox & Kings Global Services (CKGS) has been the sole authorized service provider of the Indian Embassy and Consulates in the U.S. when it comes to visa collection and delivery processing, including OCI and renunciation of Indian Citizenship. Depending on your jurisdiction you can submit your applications for an Indian visa to the following CKGS centers across the U.S.:
- Washington, DC
- San Francisco
- New York
While the CKGS has been outsourced to deliver the above mentioned services, take note that the Indian Embassy and Consulates are still in charge of handling the following:
- Emergency visa cases from applicants who are of Indian origin
- Diplomatic, official or laissez-passers passport holders
Since CKGS is a service company, it does not issue visas or control the issuance of such documents. Hence, it is still the Consulate of the Embassy of India that controls the issuance and terms and conditions of the Indian visa. Whether or not you are eligible to apply for an Indian visa is entirely at the discretion of the Indian Embassy.
How do I get started?
As previously mentioned, there is no other way you can apply for an Indian visa except via the CKGS website. You cannot go directly to the Government of India website to make your application, as it is the CKGS that will direct you to that website to fill your online form when the appropriate step and time comes. You can only be directed to the Government of India website once you are already done with the forms that you need to accomplish on the CKGS website.
If you are a U.S. applicant, the website has been especially customized in such a way that all the necessary details like the type, duration, service category, documents checklist and fees are displayed on the screen. The rest of the supplementary documents, letters and forms required in the application are in accordance with the instructions of the Embassy of India based in the U.S.
To go through the entire application process, simply fill in the widget and it will guide you through. Here are the steps that you should follow:
Step 1: Go to “VISA Application-Get Started”
Before you fill out the VISA application form, make sure that you have already secured all the necessary details with you and that your current US/foreign passport is valid for a minimum of six (6) months from the date of application and has two (2) blank pages. Here are the details that you need to secure:
- Date of issue
- Date of expiry
- Place of issue
- If applicable, the details of your previous Indian visa
- If applicable, the details of all the countries you have visited in the last six months
- Details of your current citizenship
- Details of your proposed travel itinerary in India, including the cities and places covered in the itinerary and your entry and exit place in India
- Details of any of your other valid passports or identity certificates
- Details of your reference contacts in India and U.S.
Step 2: Answer the questions in the widget.
The questions in the widget will help you determine whether you are eligible to apply for a Visa or not. If you are eligible, you may want to autofill the forms for easier processing.
Step 3: Take note of all the information on the result page.
The result page will display the following information:
- Document Checklist
Read this checklist very carefully as this is where you will know all the documents, letters and forms needed to complete your application. You will also know in this part whether you should submit the original copy or just a photocopy of the documents, or if they should be notarized or self-attested.
- Visa Fees
- Web Reference Number
Take note of this number because you can use this on the CKGS website if you want to temporarily get disconnected and apply later.
- Processing Time
Step 4: Fill out the Government of India online form.
The CKGS website provides applicants a sample form to assist them in filling out the form. Print this sample document so you won’t commit typical errors committed when accomplishing the form.
Once you have printed out the sample form, leave the CKGS website and go to the Government of India Online VISA website. After being redirected to the other website, click “Regular Visa Application” to proceed to the next step.
After selecting the said option, take note of the following steps:
- Accomplish the Online Visa form.
- Select the correct jurisdiction earlier identified in the Widget stage.
- Print the form on white, non-glossy paper using a laser printer.
- Affix your photo on the form.
- Sign it.
Below are the specifications for the photo:
- The phot for OCI must not be the same as the one in your passport.
- The photo must be taken within the past six months.
- It must be square shaped or 2×2 inches.
- It should not be stapled or taped on the form.
- It should be colored and should have a white background.
- It should show your full face.
- It should show you wearing your normal colored street attire.
- It should be printed on glossy paper only.
- It should show you wearing prescription glasses, hearing device, or wig if you normally wear such articles every day.
- It should show you not wearing a hat or anything that may obscure your hair or hairline.
In this step, you will also be provided a new web reference number which you will use to track the status of your application on the CKGS website.
Step 5: Go back to the CKGS website.
Once you have completed the Government VISA form, click on the “Appointment and Payment” option and then save and print the Application Form. You will then be redirected to the CKGS website where you will continue with the rest of the application process.
Step 6: Complete the forms and letters.
Back on the CKGS website, fill and sign the supplementary letters and forms by filling in the pending blanks. Since some of the documents have to be notarized or self-attested, you need to do the following:
- Print a copy of the Document Checklist
- Accomplish the forms with the correct details.
- Check the letters and forms.
- Go to “My Account” and print the forms.
- Affix your signature on the forms.
- Check which among the documents require to be reproduced, self-attested or notarized and get it done as instructed.
Step 7: Select your mode of submission.
When it comes to this, you have two options: Shipping or Walk-in.
If you choose the first option, then book your shipping at the right step on the CKGS website. To save you the need to travel, it is also best to purchase your shipment through CKGS. Send your application to the CKGS Application Center that is nearest to your jurisdiction and print the following label:
Attn to: New “Visa” Application
CKGS Application Centre Name
CKGS Application Center Address
CKGS Application Center Location
CKGS Application Center Zip Code
When shipping your application, make sure that you only send one application per package, the weight of your package is less than 0.5lbs, the shipping label indicated above is pasted on the envelope, and you use only the acceptable FedEx or UPS envelopes. Never use envelopes or other packaging except the acceptable ones, and never request a pickup by FedEX or UPS since that is not included in the fee.
Should you choose the “Walk-In” option as your mode of submission, stay online to complete the “Appointment Process.” To do this, you should follow these steps:
- Select your appointment date and time slot.
- Wait for CKGS to send you the confirmation of your appointment date and time.
- Make sure to appear at the CKGS Application Center on the appointed date and time and submit your application with all the necessary documents.
If you are of San Francisco jurisdiction, note that biometric enrolment for Visa application is required for walk-in applicants. Only the following are exempted from this step:
- Applicants below 12 years and above 70 years of age.
- Applicants who hold an official passport, diplomatic passport or UN passport
- Applicants who have no fingers
You also need to sign the exception form only if you have poor finger prints or have less number of fingers. In the case of the latter, you still need to give the biometrics of your existing fingers before signing the exception form.
Step 8: Pay the required fees.
You can only pay via credit card online or at the CKGS Application Center. Take note also that CKGS does not accept cash or check for payment. If you fail to pay the fees in full, the CKGS will not be responsible for the consequential delays in the processing of your application.
Your fees include the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) amounting to $3, CKGS Service fee for $17, and other fees like courier service or SMS.
Step 9: Submit your Physical Application to the CKGS Application Center.
After completing the online process, the next thing for you to do is to submit your physical application either via walk-in or shipping option. Your physical application must be made to the CKGS Application Center in your jurisdiction.
Once you are already at the CKGS Application Center, arrange all your completed documents in the same order as mentioned in the checklist and check if the number of documents you have collated matches the number of documents in the checklist. Place all the documents inside the envelope for submission and do not forget to enclose a copy of the checklist in it while keeping one for your personal reference.
Keep in mind that your application cannot be processed without the CKGS Application Center receiving your physical appearance package.
If you choose the CKGS shipping option, wait for the email acknowledging the receipt of your actual application package with the words “Received, but not Verified.” Later on, another email will advise you of the result of the verification process.