India Visa for US Citizens and Yoga Students – What you need to know?
India is a diverse land with a rich cultural heritage and the treasure of traditional values and this is what makes it an ideal destination for visitors from all over the world. This also explains the fact that last year there have been above one million US citizens as visitors to this country in particular.
Tourist visa – the key that opens doors to India
Obtaining a tourist visa for a visit to India is a process simple enough and can be handled through online itself. Most of the nationalities require an Indian visa including citizens from the US. An online eVisa can be applied for if a visit to India is a part of your plans.
As a citizen of USA, if you are keen on the regulations and requirements that it takes while applying for a tourist visa , here are some crucial points addressed that might help you.
What is a tourist EVisa?
This is an official document that is essential to permit entry to India and for travel throughout the country . It is linked electronically to an individual’s passport.
Can a US citizen obtain visa on his arrival to India ?
No. There is no visa provided on arrival to India. The application and receipt of your visa need to be done prior to your trip itself . US citizens arriving in India with no valid visa , will not be permitted to enter the country.
How long can US citizens stay in India?
A total of 180 days stay is granted to US citizens while they are in India . This India Tourist eVisa has a validity of 1 year from its issue and is also valid enough for multiple entries.
What do I need in order to apply for Indian Tourist EVisa?
In order to apply for an Indian tourist EVisa , the following are essential while submitting your application:
- Bio page in your passport -a digital copy in PDF format.
- Passport photo – digital and in JPEG format.
- A debit /credit card / PayPal account – to enable the procedure payment.
Yoga Students Visa for India
India – the birthplace of yoga and the land of yogis and saints, promises an exciting adventure and experience for all yogi travelers. Here is a opportunity for you to step out of your comfort zone of your home and try out the simple yogic lifestyle for a while and for a change.
And the last thing amid the excitement to try this new yogic voyage would be to land up in the country and then discovering that you have not got the right visa but the wrong one! Here is an outline of the essentials that you must know so that you get the correct visa confirmed for your tour , how you can obtain it and what you are supposed to do on your arrival to India.
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An important point to remember and know – Do not purchase tickets that are non-refundable until you have secured your passport and visa and have possession of them. The processing time for the visa may take longer than usual at times.
Validity of Visa
The validity of the visas are applicable from the date of issue of the visa and not from the date that you enter India which means that you should not apply too much in advance!
Tourist Visa is the common visa which can last for 6 months. So if your yoga course program takes longer than this duration, then a student visa would be more apt for you. This is referred to by some as “Yoga Visa” , however the technical term used for the same is “Student Visa”. In this case, the yoga center in question must make the necessary arrangements for your documentation since all the schools of yoga may not be approved for this particular visa i.e. student visa.
Here are some common questions addressing information on visas:
What is a visa?
When one travels to a foreign country , an official authorisation is needed in order to be permitted to enter that nation in particular and travel around within the country. This is stamped or attached with the individual’s passport. Depending upon his purpose of visit , an individual may apply for tourist visa, student visa, resident visa or business visa. The appropriate guidelines on the same must be followed carefully as per the country that he intends to visit during the course of the application for the respective visa.
Who needs a visa for India?
Excluding citizens from Nepal and Bhutan , all others (including children), must possess a valid visa in order to visit India.
What type of visa to study yoga in India?
Previously, the study of yoga could be pursued on a tourist visa . Today also you can still visit India on a tourist visa itself for pursuing your course in yogic education. However, recently, in certain locations of India such as Mysore, the officials demand for a student visa. If you already have determined which place precisely you will be pursuing your course from, the yoga school of your choice will be able to let you know the particular visa type that you require in order to get enrolled into their course programs, so you can contact them directly in the process of your preparation for the trip.
These are the three different types of visas that are commonly required as per the situation and purpose of the visitor aspiring to take up a yoga course in India:
This visa serves a shorter duration of 6 months or less, in India during stay and is valid for tourism only. Employment within the country under this type of visa, is strictly prohibited.
If your purpose of visiting India is to stay in the country for an extended period of time exceeding 6 months for the study of yoga, then a student visa will be essential .In such case, you will have to obtain a letter from your chosen yoga center stating the fact the you have enrolled for the particular course conducted by them.
If your purpose of visit in India is to do some voluntary services such as in any NGO perhaps or in an ashram, then there arises the need for an employment visa. Just like in case of the student visa, here also you would require a letter from the particular workplace stating your employment with the organisation respectively.
Tourist Visa – the details
With a validity of 6 months, tourist visas generally can be of the types : single-entry or multiple-entry.
- Single Entry: A single entry tourist visa allows you a single entry into the country and a stay for a duration of upto six months at the maximum after which you have to leave the country . Then you will have to reapply for a new one if you want to revisit India. At any point if you happen to exit the country (India) in course of your six months , you will not be able to return to India.
- Multiple Entry: A multiple-entry tourist visa, enables you to leave India, and then be able to re-enter as well with no hassles of going through the formalities and procedure all over again for applying and getting a new visa. As per the name itself, throughout the validity period , you can enter as many times you desire. This visa also permits a maximum stay of six months at a time.
Though in most cases the tourist visas for India come with a 6-month validity, some of the nationalities may be granted a visa for just about 3 months. In case of US citizens, visas , with validity of 5 years and 10 years as well, may be granted as per a particular bilateral arrangement.
As far as the rules pertaining to visas for India are concerned, they are very strict regarding the same and could also lead to penalty and detention if the duration of stay exceeds the validity period of the individual visa concerned.
Standard requirements for a Tourist Visa
For the updated information of the requirements below, and/or any other/others not listed below, it is advised to check upon the latest information pertaining to the same with your country’s Indian Embassy :
- A passport with a validity of a minimum of six more months from your day of arrival to India and with one page empty (USA – two pages sometimes)
- Passport photos (the number of copies required would depend on the embassy)
- indian evisa application form (this can be downloaded from your embassy)
- Proof of your Residency
- Application Fee (this is generally accepted in cash only)
- Copy of your Birth Certificate (this may not be applicable in all the cases, however it is in the USA in particular as well as in case of minors). Where required, your birth certificate might call for a translation.
Please note: You do not have to undergo any particular vaccinations for obtaining a visa under the Indian Embassy. However , it is important to check with your physician or doctor regarding any vaccinations as suggested.
Application process for regular tourist visa
Here is a general three-step visa application process for a regular tourist visa :
Step1 . Online application: This step consists of filling the application form and submitting it securely.
Step 2 . Documents submission: Your necessary documents must be accompanying your application that you submit at the Indian Mission or the respective center for application for the Indian Visa.
Step 3 . Receipt of Passport and visa : These can be collected from the respective Indian Mission or Visa Application Center.
15-Day Extensions of Visa
The extension for tourist visas in India cannot be granted excepting in cases of emergency. A 15-day extension can be granted during a situation of emergency, in such case you are required to present the return flight ticket that you possess to the nearest Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO) or Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) . An extension on the other visas may be granted upon request through submission of the same at the Foreigners’ Registration Office .
Please note: For tourist visas, the extensions granted are very rare, unless in cases like accidents or extreme sickness due to which the individual cannot leave the country.
Converting from one visa type to another
During your stay in India, tourist visas are not convertible into any other visa type. In order to be eligible to apply for another type of visa, you have to leave India. For other types of visa, you can apply to the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) in Delhi for converting your visa. Alternatively , you can also apply to the Foreigners’ Registration Office, via which your case will be further forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. And the third alternative in this case is also to leave the country and then apply accordingly to get your new visa.
Applying for a visa – General points
- The validity of all visas are from the date it is issued, and not from the date of your entering India. As an example, a 6-month Tourist Visa which has been issued on the 1st of January stands valid until the 30th of June.
- You must mention at least the name of one referee from India as demanded by the the application forms. So here, if it is known to you about the center you have enrolled on for the yoga course, you can mention its name or as a traveller, the hotel name can be mentioned , (Name of the hotel that you are going to stay while in India).
- You may receive the tourist visa on the same day itself or it may take a time period of upto 10 days while the other visas may require a longer time. So to avoid any kind of unforeseen delays in your tourist visa, you may have to give it a minimum of seven to ten days, You will be able to get the visa earlier or faster if all your necessary documents are prepared in advance.
Where to apply for your visa
Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may apply to the Indian consulate or embassy , while in several countries, the application process is generally outsourced ( the visa service center takes up the task of processing and not the embassy)
Examples of some useful sites for visa application:
While applying for the visa, if you do not happen to be residing in your home country that you are a citizen of, then in that case, the Indian embassy or the respective office in that particular country where you are at present staying , should be contacted by you so as to be able to access further information necessary to get the visa.
Extending your visa
With the exception of tourist and transit visas, visas of all types can go for an extension in India. This power is exclusively exercised by the FRO or FRRO or MHA in Delhi.
Please note: even though, within India , visas of some types are extendable, the process could be time consuming and hence it is best to avoid such a situation. So here, it is better to try obtaining a visa that covers entirely the complete duration of your stay in India.
Registration in India
For those on Tourist Visa, registering in India is not necessary. However student visas or other visas require the same . It is mandatory to be registered with the FRRO/FRO for all foreign nationals excepting children under the age of 16 , within a span of fourteen days from arriving in India.
“Yoga Visa “ to India – an easier way
How “Yoga Visa” was introduced
“Yoga day is India’s Pride.” These are the words spoken by the prime minister of India – Narendra Modi in context of December 11, 2014, when it was decided by the UN to make the declaration of ‘International Yoga Day’ as on June 21st. He also mentioned the responsibility of India to convey the message of yoga in its true spirit to everyone. It is probably on account of this significant resolution made by the UN, that the “Yoga Visa” has been introduced by the Government of India for the visiting tourists who wish to pursue a course on yogic education.
The popularity of yoga
Led by the success of an Indian Hindu monk – Swami Vivekananda, the latter part of the 19th century and the earlier half of the 20th century saw yoga as a popular art form in the West, and also in the form of a practice that entailed the physical, spiritual, and mental discipline and aimed towards a transformation from within the being. Ever since , there has been an increasing demand for yoga learning and various courses on yoga such as yoga teacher training, yoga retreats , meditation sessions, spiritual discourses and so on . And India – the birthplace of Yoga and the hub of yogis from all over the world, has been attracting considerable attention as students continue to flock to the land in their quest for wisdom , spirituality and the awakening of their kundalini !
Here, an important point to know is that the word “Yoga Visa” as used by the yoga schools and authorities in India , is however , not a term as used by the embassies or visa service center where the visa is to be received and these recognize only the “ Student Visa.” This visa lasts for the duration that the yoga program is pursued and can go upto a period of five years . An extension can be granted on this visa during stay in India and the students may also be exempted from visiting the Foreigners’ Registration Office.
Travelling to India
The thought of an exciting adventure to India inspires one and many to cross distances and visit their destination. This includes innumerable yoga students from all parts of the world ready to visit the “Yoga Capital of the World “ – Rishikesh . Indeed Rishikesh offers several divine yoga ashrams and yoga centers that conduct quality courses on yoga including yoga teacher training and yoga retreats. With a combination of yoga and a vacation that lets them go for sightseeing, adventure sports and street shopping, Rishikesh has been the hub of yogis and travelers since long. Other places that attract students towards yoga and touring include the pristine beaches of Goa, the greenery of Kerala and the majestic mountains of Dharamshala. By introducing the “Yoga Visa” , India welcomes and encourages all yoga students from the globe to go ahead with their travel plans and make their entry into India an easier expedition.
An E-Visa not only serves the purpose of sightseeing or visiting and recreational purposes but also meets short-term reasons like undergoing yoga courses or any short-term medical treatment such as the Indian ethnic ayurveda therapy. This system has created a more hassle free process for travelling to India to be able to pursue the ancient yogic education and avail the authentic teachings of the subject from the place of its origin.
Journey to India
Planning for and organising your tour to India might sound like a big deal. For example, some might assume it to be a costly affair and the visa application and further procedure related to it might be a complex process consuming a long duration of time. Thus the journey to India might pose a challenging picture. However, if you plan your trip through the right steps and information, this may not be as cumbersome as you think and your destination will just seem closer and will take you to a whole new world of experience to witness and learn. So book your flight, grab your approved visa and passport ,pack your luggage , and be inspired to turn your yogic journey to India into a life changing experience to remember!