India on Monday resumed issuing tourist visas to foreigners planning to arrive by scheduled flights. Issue of tourist visas for those travelling by chartered flights opened on October 15.

Only single-entry visas valid for for a maximum one month are being issued. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, issue of visa to foreigners was suspended last year.

India grants visas of two types — e-visa and regular visa. Nationals from 117 countries can apply for the former while for the others, it is the latter.

Citizens of Pakistani origin or having Pakistani passport are not eligible for an e-visa. Foreigners who are not Pakistani nationals, but whose parents or grandparents (paternal or maternal) were born in, or were permanently resident in Pakistan, are also not eligible for the e-eisa. They can apply for a regular visa at the Indian Mission.

Limited flights

Although tourist visas have now been resumed, the ban on regular international flights continues up to November 30. So, for travel till November 30, those who get their visas now will have to travel by flights operated under the ‘Air Bubble’, a temporary arrangement implemented in case of a ban and with a number of restrictions. India has ‘Air Bubble’ agreements with 28 countries and a limited number of flights are being operated on a reciprocal basis.

The resumption of grant of tourist visas is expected to follow accelerated demand to allow regular flight operations. High fares because of the limited number of flights is cited as a key reason for the need to resume regular flight operation.

Free visas

Also, the ‘Air bubble ’agreements are meant to be only ‘end-to-end’ and not valid for onward travel to a third country. This means travellers often have to break journeys at multiple points to travel to their final destination to which India doesn't permit a direct flight.

In June, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that once visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh tourist visas will be free of charge. However, the benefit will be available only once per tourist. The facility will be applicable till March 31, 2022 or till the 5 lakh limit is reached, whichever is earlier.

The total financial implication of the scheme to the government will be ₹100 crore.