All U.S. citizens require a valid Indian visa to enter and exit India. For visitors looking to visit India only for tourist purposes and plan to stay fewer than 60 days, the best option is to apply for an e-Visa online, which you must do at least four days before you leave for your trip.
The e-Visa is available to passport holders of 166 countries, however, if you plan to stay longer than 60 days or are visiting India for study, research, or work purposes, you must apply for a regular visa. Additionally, if your parents or grandparents were born in or have lived in Pakistan, you will be ineligible to apply for the e-Visa, even if you are a passport-holder of one of the pre-approved countries.
To apply for the regular visa, you will need to complete the application form online, print it out, and bring it to an Indian consulate, along with the other required photos and documents. Handwritten applications will not be accepted.
While some parts of the Indian visa application form are straightforward, others are a little confusing. Mistakes might result in your application being immediately denied and your visa fees forfeited, so make sure you fully understand each question and check your answers before submitting your application.
Tips for the Indian Visa Application Form
Answer truthfully as you fill out your application, but don't worry about a stringent background check. Your primary concern should be avoiding small mistakes on your form that may give a reason for the consulate to flag your application.
Note that when you go back to review and verify your information, some of the yes or no questions, such as "Were your grandparents Pakistani nationals?" might have defaulted back to yes.
Take your time and check your answers before you print out your application. Once you verify the visa application form for the last time and save it, you cannot go back to make any changes. If you see later that you have made a mistake, you must start a brand new form. Record the temporary filing number that you are given for reference in case you lose connection during the process.
Getting Started on the Indian Visa Application Form
First, open the official Indian visa application form in a new tab or browser window. You may be prompted about the official site being insecure or the security certificate being invalid. While not ideal, you can safely ignore this warning.
Choosing an Indian Mission
The Indian Mission, or consulate, is where you will submit your application. One of the most common reasons for applicants being rejected is because they choose the incorrect mission at the top of the form. The Indian Mission is the consulate where you are applying, but the consulate you choose is not based solely on driving distance. For U.S. residents, here's how to figure out which Indian mission to select for this question based on your place of residence:
- USA-ATLANTA: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the Virgin Islands.
- USA-CHICAGO: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin.
- USA-HOUSTON: Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Texas.
- USA-NEW YORK: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, or Vermont.
- USA-SAN FRANCISCO: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming.
- USA-WASHINGTON: Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia or Bermuda.
It is easier to apply for your visa when you are in your home country, however, this might not be possible if you are residing abroad. Some missions will accept applications from non-residents, but others will not. Before you apply, you can contact the consulate nearest to your location to verify that you will be able to submit your application to them.
Date of Birth
The calendar function on the visa application page is a little tricky. If you do not see your birth month in the dropdown menu, try adjusting the year first. Afterward, you can try selecting the month again and will see all twelve months available.
Other Passport Validity
When prompted for "Any other valid Passport/Identity Certificate(IC) held," select yes if you are a dual citizen and hold a passport or other form of identification from another country. You will need to submit the details of this citizenship as well, so have your documents ready. When prompted for your citizenship/National ID number, you can write in "NA" or "non-applicable" if you do not have one.
You cannot choose "NONE" as an answer to this question. However, if you select "OTHERS," you must write something in the field in order to move on to the next page of the form.
Visible Identification Marks
This could mean scars or tattoos. Unless you have an obvious handicap or facial tattoo, just write "none."
On the application form, you will need to select your level of education. However, the terminology used on the form might be unfamiliar for Americans. Refer to this list to determine which level of education to select:
- Below Matriculation: You stopped before 10th grade.
- Graduate: You hold a college degree.
- Higher Secondary: You graduated high school.
- Illiterate: You never attended school.
- Matriculation: You finished 10th grade in high school.
- Post Graduate: You received a master's degree or PhD.
- Professional: You attended professional training and received a certificate.
Present and Permanent Address
When applying in the United States, the present address must be within range of the Indian Mission you chose at the top of the form. You will be required to show proof that you do reside at the present address, such as a copy of your driver's license or a recent utility bill.
If you're applying for your visa while already abroad, you should list the address of your hotel as your present address. Your permanent address is your home address in your home country.
Even if your spouse, father, or mother are deceased, you must list their full names, citizenships, and dates of birth.
Choosing a Profession
If you are applying for a tourist visa, be wary of the many journalist-related choices listed in the profession drop-down box, such as journalist, media, news broadcaster, press, etc. If you select one of these, you may be rejected and asked to apply for a difficult-to-obtain journalist visa instead. If you do not see your occupation on the list, do not select "UNEMPLOYED." Instead, simply choose "OTHER" and write your profession in the field.
Don't choose 'TOURIST' as your visa type unless you follow it up with 'TOURISM' in the Purpose of Visit field. Other types of visas will take longer to process and will be scrutinized more by the consulate.
You will need to fill out the details of your trip including when and where you plan to arrive in and leave India. If you don't have a ticket yet, these do not have to be exact dates.
Countries Visited in the Last 10 Years
This field on the Indian visa application form does not have a lot of space and frequent travelers may run out of room to list all of their countries visited. If you run out of space, list as many countries as you can and attach an official letter to your application that lists the rest. Be courteous and include your passport number, visa file number, and signature on the letter. Not listing a country for which you already have a stamp in your passport may be a reason for rejection.
You will also be asked if you have visited "any SAARC countries (except your own country) during the last three years." SAARC stands for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, a South Asian geopolitical union. Countries in the SAARC include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
You will need references for India and your local address. If you are applying for your Indian visa while abroad, you may list your current hotel/guesthouse as the local reference. If applying while at home, list a neighbor, employer, or colleague. Your reference in India can be your first hotel where you intend to stay. The references probably won't be checked, however, you cannot leave the field blank.
Finishing the Indian Visa Application Form
If asked, don't worry about uploading a digital photo; you will need to bring two recent, official passport-sized (2 inches x 2 inches on a white background) photos with you to the consulate. Do not staple or attach them to the application yourself.
Remember, once you save and verify your application, you cannot make any further changes. You will be emailed a confirmation with the visa filing number and given a PDF file of your application.
Just because your visa application is saved in their system, that does not mean you have applied. It still must be printed, signed, and brought into the appropriate Indian Mission.
After you print your application, you might notice blank fields for questions you were not asked. This is not unusual and should not hinder your application process, which will take about a week after you submit your application in person.