Muscat – With a view to facilitate and encourage foreign nationals including Omanis, to visit India for tourism, business and other purposes, India has announced changes in the existing visa rules in order to liberalise, simplify and rationalise the visa regime. The Government has modified the existing ‘e-Tourist Visa’, Scheme. The ‘e-Visa’ will now be issued for the specific purpose of the visit viz. ‘e-Tourist Visa’, ‘e-Business Visa’, ‘e-Medical Visa’. While, ‘e-Tourist Visa’ will be issued for visits aimed at recreation, sight-seeing, casual visits and to attend Yoga programmes, ‘e-Business Visa’ will be issued for visits aimed at enhancing business activities in India, including establishing business ventures, purchase/sell commercial products, attending technical meetings, discussions, board meetings, recruitment of manpower etc. Similarly, ‘e-Medical Visa’ will be issued for medical treatment in India.
In order to further facilitate Omani patients visiting India for medical treatment, government has decided to open separate counters at Immigration points for speedy and smooth clearance of Medical Visa holders, initially at six international airports viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Facilitation desks will also be available at these airports, which would have Arabic as well as Russian translators to help patients overcome the language barrier. This facility will be particularly useful for people of Oman visiting India for medical treatment. It may be noted that BLS Oman, which is responsible for accepting visa applications, has already opened a separate counter at their Muscat Centre to facilitate medical visa applicants. In 2016, a total of 11,612 medical visas and 8,491 medical attendant visas were issued by the Embassy. Medical Attendants accompanying patients going to India for medical treatment are granted medical attendant visa under the existing procedure.
The window for issuing visas under ‘e-Visa’ has also been increased from 30 days to 120 days, which means that the applicant can travel to India within 120 days of the issue of ‘e-Visa’. Similarly, the duration of stay in India under ‘e-Visa’ has also been increased from existing 30 days to 60 days. In case of ‘e-Medical Visa’, extension can be granted for stay upto 6 months on case to case basis by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) concerned. While under ‘e-Tourist Visa’ and ‘e-Business Visa’, foreign nationals will now be allowed to undertake two visits as against the current provision of single visit, the applicants availing ‘e-Medical Visa’ will be issued Triple Entry Visas enabling them to visit India three times on the same visa. ‘e-Visa’, except for ‘e-Medical Visa’, will be non- extendable and non-convertible. The Government has also permitted ‘e-Visa’ holders to enter India through 5 major ports of India viz. Mumbai, Cochin, Goa, Chennai and Bangalore in order to tap the potential of cruise tourism to India; They are also allowed to India through 16 airports of India only viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangaluru, Hyderabad, Trivendrum, Kochi, Goa, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Gaya, Jaipur, Lucknow, Thiruchirapalli and Varanasi.
With a view to promote visit of Omanis for tourism and business purposes, the government has also decided to grant Multiple Entry Tourist and Business Visas valid for a period of 5 years. Each visit under Tourist Visa, however, shall not exceed 90 days. Tourist Visa holder will also not be required to register himself/herself. Similarly, Multi-entry business visas will also be valid for 5 years with continuous stay during each visit not to exceed 180 days. The requirement of registration of Business Visa holders has also been done away with. In 2016, the Embassy of India in Muscat issued over 72 thousand Tourist Visas and over 900 Business Visas.