Tourist visas are issued to people who want to come to India to visit people and go sightseeing or attend a short-term yoga program. Although tourist visas can be granted for more than six months, depending on the applicant's nationality, it's not possible to remain in India for longer than six months at a time on a tourist visa. In late 2009, India introduced new rules to curb the misuse of tourist visas in India (people who were living in India on Tourist visas, and doing quick runs to a neighboring country and back every six months). Specifically, a two-month gap was required between visits to India. This requirement was finally removed in late November 2012. However, some Also note, that if you apply for another tourist visa within a month of expiration of your old one, processing may take up to 45 days as approval needs to be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Entry (X) Visa
An X visa used to be issued to people who didn't clearly fall into any of the other categories of visa applicants (such as volunteers). However, as of mid-2010, an X visa is only available to the following people
- A foreigner of Indian origin
- Spouse and children of a foreigner of Indian origin or Indian citizen
- Spouse and dependent children of a foreigner coming to India on any other long term visa, such as an Employment visa or Business visa.
Unlike Tourist visas, X visas are not subject to the two-month gap. Therefore, people of Indian origin should apply for one of these visas when visiting India. It's not possible to work in India on an X visa. However, X visas can be extended in India, and there's no need to leave every six months
Employment visas are issued to foreigners who are working in India, for an organization registered in India. Foreigners doing long-term volunteer work in India are now granted employment visas (as opposed to X visas, which was previously the case). Employment visas are usually granted for one year, or the term of the contract. They can be extended in India.In order to apply for an Employment visa, you'll need proof of employment with a company/organization in India, such as a contract that states the terms and conditions. From April 1, 2017, the rule that stipulates applicants must be earning $25,000 a year or more has been lowered to allow for foreigners to teach in Central Higher Educational Institutes. Other exceptions are made for volunteers, ethnic cooks, translators, non-English language teachers, and members of Foreign High Commissions and Embassies
Business visas are available for people who wish to explore business opportunities or conduct business in India. This type of visa differs from an Employment visa in that the applicant won't be working for, and earning an income from, an organization in India. Business visa applicants will require a letter from the organization that they intend to do business with, stating the nature of the business, duration of stay, places to be visited, and intention to meet expenses.
Business visas are valid for up to five years, with multiple entries. However, holders usually aren't allowed to remain in India for more than six months at a time (depending on the nature of the business). 10 year business visas can be granted to foreigners who set up joint ventures in India.
Intern (I) Visa: New Category
Prior to April 1, 2017, it was necessary for foreigners pursuing an internship in an Indian organization to obtain an Employment visa. However, foreigners who meet certain conditions can now get an Intern visa. The gap between the completion of graduation or post graduation and the commencement of the internship should not exceed one year. The validity of the Intern visa is restricted to the duration of the internship program or one year,which ever is less. It can't be converted into an Employment visa (or any other type of visa).
Student visas are granted to people who wish to come to India and study long-term at an officially recognized educational institution. This includes the study of yoga, Vedic culture, and Indian system of dance and music. The main document required is student admission/registration papers from the institution. Student visas are issued for up to five years, depending on the duration of the course. They can also be extended in India.
In regards to yoga, the term "Yoga visa" is often mentioned. However, it's actually a Student visa that's provided for the purpose of studying yoga. Most of the well known yoga centers in India will require those who study with them to obtain a yoga Student visa. A tourist visa is not sufficient for long-term study.
Conference visas are issued to delegates who want to attend a conference in India that's offered by an Indian government organization. Those who are attending a conference with a private organization in India should apply for a Business visa.
If you're a professional journalist or photographer, you should apply for a Journalist visa. The main benefit of a Journalist visa is if you want access to a particular region or person. A Journalist visa is issued for three months. However, these visas can be notoriously difficult to get, so only apply if you really need to.
If you're employed by a media company, or if you list your occupation as journalist or photographer on your visa application, it's likely you'll be made to get a Journalist visa regardless of what you intend to do in India. India is very sensitive to people involved in the media (including editors and writers) coming to India, due to how they may portray the country.