Immigration updates for India
August 3, 2017
There have been updates over the last few weeks for immigration controls in India. These concern South African visa applicants and holders of Person of Indian Origin cards.
Mandatory biometric enrollment for all visa applicants in South Africa
The Indian High Commission in Pretoria has announced that effective July 17th all applicants for an Indian visa are required to register biometric data. This will apply for all visa categories including employment, tourist and business visas. The data will comprise of fingerprints and a facial image scan.
Similar measures were imposed in August 2016 for certain categories of applicants at the Indian Visa Application Centres in the United Kingdom. E-Visa holders will be asked to submit their biometric data at the port of arrival at the port of entry in India, which may delay the entry process.
South African nationals and residents submitting applications at the Indian global visa application centers managed by VFS in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town will be asked to arrange a biometric collection appointment when submitting applications online.
Children under the age of 12 or those over the age of 70 are exempt from biometric enrollment and will only be required to submit a facial image scan.
Following the initial enrollment and submission of biometrics, applicants are exempt from further biometric submission for subsequent applications for 59 months. However, the High Commission in Pretoria or the Consulate General of India do reserve the right to demand a repeat enrollment on a case-by-case basis.
E-Business Visas are available to nationals of 161 countries and valid for two entries for a maximum stay of 60 days. They can be obtained twice in a year. The consular business visa may be valid for three months to one year or more, with single or multiple entries and a maximum period of stay of six months. Both require biometric registration.
Business travelers from South Africa to India are advised to consider whether to apply for a consular visa, and submit their biometrics at the point of application, or an e-Visa, and submit their biometrics on arrival at the airport.
10-year multiple entry visas for South African Business Visitors
The Indian High Commission in Pretoria has announced that the Government of India has decided to issue Multi-entry Business Visas with ten years' validity to South African business visitors. Business visitors will be able to stay a maximum of 180 days on each visit with local registration requirements waived.
Conversion of Person of Indian Origin to Overseas Citizens of India further extended
The Indian External Affairs Minister has announced that the government has extended the deadline for Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card holders to covert to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) status from June 30, 2017 to December 31, 2017.
An amendment to the Indian Citizen Act unified the two schemes. The withdrawal of the PIO scheme was announced on January 31, 2015.
An OCI card is valid for the holder’s lifetime. It is accompanied by an open ended multiple entry visa to India with no need to report to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
There have been several extensions to the deadline for the conversion of PIO to OCI.
Important points to note:
1. Applications should be lodged at the respective local FRRO or the overseas mission or consulate of jurisdiction.
2. Crown India highly recommends that clients complete the process as soon as possible. Late or overdue applications may be considered but a final decision is subject to the discretion of the authority.
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Debra Beynon, Regional Immigration Manager, Asia Pacific: firstname.lastname@example.org.