India at a Glance
Popular Destinations and Visas for India
Many of India’s metropolises are among the most populous and fastest-growing cities in the world.
Hotspots for Expats in India
New Delhi, the national capital, is an exception among Indian cities. Unlike many others, it is a relatively new, planned city, which was built intentionally to serve as a capital for the former British Indian Empire. Its foundations were laid in 1911 in an area which had been the site of several ancient Indian cities.
Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and the third most populous city in India, is a fast-growing metropolis. It is sometimes referred to as the “Silicon Valley of India”, due to its leading role in the IT business. Bangalore is also home to many renowned research institutions.
Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, served as the national capital until New Delhi took over. It is still considered the cultural capital of India. After a period of economic stagnation in the wake of India’s independence, Kolkata once again enjoys an economically vibrant climate.
Last but not least, you have Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, the capital of Maharashtra and the richest and most populous city in India. Its deep natural harbor holds India’s most important maritime trading post and contributes to making Mumbai the commercial capital of India.
As the home of the “Bollywood” film industry, Mumbai is India’s undisputed entertainment capital. It is perceived as a city of opportunities attracting numerous Indian migrants from other parts of the country. Foreign business people, companies, and investors also flock to Mumbai.
Visa Requirements for India
Many embassies and consulates have outsourced the visa application process to an agency. Please refer to the nearest Indian Embassy or Consulate to find out which agency, if any, is responsible for your visa application.
In addition to the more specific requirements outlined below, you must bring a passport valid for a minimum of 180 days, two recent passport-size photographs, and a completed application form, which can be downloaded from every Indian embassy’s website.
There are a number of visa categories for India. In addition to tourist, student, entry, transit, and medical visas (the latter aimed at medical tourists), there are several types of visas meeting expats’ different profiles.
Depending on your visa type and the length of your stay, you may also have to register locally, usually within 14 days of arrival. We cover registration with the local authorities in our separate guides to Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai.
Visa Categories: For Business or for Pleasure?
- A business visa is aimed at industrial or business entrepreneurs who are involved in commercial activities or would like to explore or set up a new venture. The visa application must be supported by a letter of invitation from an Indian business associate and a letter from the applicant’s company. Both should state the intention and duration of the visit.
- Foreigners wishing to take up employment in India should apply for an employment visa. This visa also applies to those planning to do volunteer work for an Indian NGO. It is granted for an initial period of one year, but can be renewed at your respective FRRO. Be sure to include proof of employment as well as professional and academic qualifications.
- A project visa is limited to foreigners working on projects in the power and steel industry.
- Professional journalists and photographers may apply for a journalist visa for up to three months. Before taking up an assignment, they must register with the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India. Journalists traveling to India for private reasons must also file an application for a journalist visa, accompanied by a statement confirming the non-media related purpose of their visit.
- A conference visa is granted to attendees of official conferences, seminars or workshops organized either by a government or public agency, or by a recognized educational institution upon production of their invitation. Keep in mind that for NGO-sponsored conferences approval of the relevant government authority is required.
- An application for a research visa must be accompanied by a research proposal, proof of financial resources, and a letter of admission from a recognized university. This visa is valid for a maximum period of three years or the established research period.
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