India eases visa norms to build economic muscle

NEW DELHI: India is liberalising its visa regime from Saturday, allowing multiple entries and longer stay on e-visa for tourism, business and medical purposes in a move that the government said will stimulate economic growth. The Cabinet had approved these changes on November 30 last year.

The e-visa now stands sub-divided into three categories – etourist visa, e-business visa and e-medical visa – with the facility now being extended to the nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports and three ports of Cochin, Goa and Mangalore to tap into the potential of cruise tourism from different countries

This service will be provided from Mumbai and Chennai seaports shortly. The window for application under e-visa scheme has been increased from 30 days to 120 days and duration of stay on evisa has been increased from 30 days to 60 days, with double entry on e-tourist and e-business visa and triple entry on emedical visa, a senior official said. Separate immigration counters and facilitation desks to assist medical tourists have been provided at airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, he said.
The government said this is being done with a view to stimulating economic growth, increasing earnings from the export of services such as tourism, medical value travel and travel on account of business, making India an attractive destination for foreign direct and portfolio investment.

The normal multiple-entry tourist and business visas for a period of five years will now be available to nationals of most of the countries too as 94 missions having biometric enrolment facilities have started giving five-year long-term tourist and business visas from March 1 while the remaining missions will be providing this facility in due course.