After watching the highly-acclaimed Indian movie 3 Idiots (an epic combination of comedy, mischief, wit and subtle romance); experiencing the warm friendship of Indian colleagues at my former organization; and learning the story behind the Taj Mahal, there has always been a growing interest in visiting this incredible country for years.
Fast forward in 2016, when the goddess of luck and opportunity transited my Vedic lunar system, I was sent to India for work :-). But first I need to get a visa! Since my desire in visiting this country is huge, I was willing to go through the complexities of visa application no matter what!
On my first visit, I was granted a 6-month visa, the traditional sticker type attached to the passport page. When I was asked to visit India again in April 2017, I figured there must be a way of getting it online knowing India is famous for its world-renowned IT professionals and young math geniuses. My impression was confirmed when I learned that a colleague was using an e-visa, way cheaper than the sticker type. This means escaping the agonizing long queue, waiting and travelling time getting it in person at the embassy or visa application center.
Since then, I have helped colleagues and friends get their Indian e-visa whether they are previous visitors or first-time travelers as part of my philosophy of making life easier for other people.
Please note that Indian e-visa facility is available for nationals of certain countries specified by its government. Check out your eligibility and other details here.
The sequence of the application process goes like this: fill-up the online application form -> upload a photo and passport personal page (additional invitation letter if travelling for business) -> pay visa fee via credit/debit card -> receive e-Visa thru email -> print the e-Visa.
During the online application, please make sure that your passport is with you; have an e-copy of your photo (in jpeg file), a scanned copy of your passport personal page (in pdf file) and an invitation letter (stipulating contact details of the person inviting you to India when you are applying for a business visa). Business visa includes attendance to meetings, conferences and work-related activities.
Let us go through each step. Please alot at least an hour or more for the whole process.
FILL-UP THE ONLINE APPLICATION FORM
The first page of the online application form looks like this which you can access from the India government website on this link. Fill up all info space with asterisk (*) to proceed to the next page.
I am an ordinary passport holder, so I chose ordinary passport in the Passport Type space. Select your port of arrival, in my case Mumbai Airport. This comes handy if you know your itinerary prior to visa application. Choose which Visa Service is applicable to you. If you come as a tourist, specify if you are travelling for Recreation/Sightseeing or Meeting Friends/Relatives. When you are travelling to Attend Technical/Business Meetings, specify so.
When you click Continue a pop-up prompting you of certain documents you need to successfully fill in the succeeding pages will appear. The pop-up list of documents is different for each e-visa type .
A different set of documents is required when you are applying for a business e-visa. The ‘Business Card’ on the 3rd item below is simply just the invitation letter from the company or organization inviting you to India.
The next page in the online application form will ask more details. Fill in as many information as possible especially the ones with asterisk (*). Do not forget to write down your Temporary Application ID (located at the upper portion of the form) to retrieve previous information in case you have something immediate to attend to or you lost internet connection.
There is a question on the form which some people find confusing. ‘Have you lived for at least two years in the country where you are applying visa?’. This refers to the country where you are at during the time of application. In my case, the country where I am residing at the moment, my home country (where I will be submitting application had I chose to get the visa in person).
Since the Applications Details Form is several pages in length, this is where you really need to be patient. For the business e-visa, you will be asked to enumerate the places to be visited, details of the applicant’s company (address, website, phone number, contact person within the company and his/her phone number), details of the Indian firm inviting the applicant (address, website, phone number, contact person within the company and his/her phone number), details of previous travel to India (if applicable, such as address during the previous visit, cities visited, type of visa issued, place and date of issue).
Another information is asked in the Applications Details Form, ‘Have you visited SAARC countries (except your own country) during last 3 years?’ SAARC countries refer to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation which is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia which include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Check the details here.
UPLOAD A PHOTO AND PASSPORT PERSONAL PAGE
You will be ask to upload a photo (2 in x 2 in) in .jpeg format. This is also equivalent to 350 x 350 (width:height) pixels and should be less than 1 MB in size. I recommend this website to resize your photo. Select an image of you (in white background) from any device, define the new size of your image (choose dimensions) then enter 350 for width and height. Click resize and download the resized version on your computer.
The one-page passport personal page should be in pdf form and should be less than 300 MB in size. Go to this website to compress your pdf document to an allowable size.
PAYING FOR THE VISA FEE
When you reach the payment section, choose SBI e-pay which will connect you to a secure page. You can use any credit, debit card or paypal account to do this.
Upon successful payment, you will be given an Application ID (different from your Temporary Application ID), write this down as you will use it when tracking the status of your e-visa application, see below with more details here.
RECEIVE THE E-VISA THRU EMAIL
After about 3 days, you will receive a notification via e-mail of the results of your application. The email will give you the link to to access the e-Visa. Please note that the email you received granting you an e-Visa is not the actual visa but the bar-coded one-page document you will access from the link sent to you.
PRINT THE E-VISA
After accessing the e-visa through the link sent to your e-mail, it is good to print or bring a hard copy with you together with your passport although you can save the e-Visa in your device. The e-Visa has a bar code, your name, birthday, number of entries and the inclusive dates that the visa is valid in a one-page format
Although it takes less than a week or minimum of 3 days to get an Indian e-Visa online, I still encourage applicants to get it way ahead of the scheduled trip to avoid any travel woes.
Information including photos were extracted from https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/.
I do hope you can visit India and experience its rich culture, tradition and history. You will surely be amazed by the warmth and friendliness of its people. My Indian friends once told me, many of them considered each visitor like a ‘God’ so expect and be ready to receive unparalleled attention and hospitality. The unique architecture, ancient structures and mostly vegetarian cuisine will truly captivate you.
Apart from the visa preparation, I took time on every trip to purchase a travel insurance especially during personal travel (business trips travel insurance is covered by my employer). For 5 years now, I have been a happy customer of World Nomads, a trusted partner of Lonely Planet. This will ensure that you can focus on the moment while World Nomads will take care of any risks that you might encounter during the trip.