UPDATED FEBRUARY 2015
Each year many foreign travelers of India find themselves in potential situations of overstaying a visa. The reasons range from improper planning with plane tickets, new love interests, spiritual awakening that needs more time to cultivate, and more. Regardless of the reason, all tourists who come into the country must leave at some point.
PAST: All non-Indian citizens must have a visa for India, approved BEFORE you travel to India.
CURRENT: More than 40 countries are now eligible for a Tourist visa on Arrival (TVOA). Eligibility requirements and validity vary from traditional Tourist visas discussed below.
Foreigners visiting India on a Tourist Visa (6 month, 5 year, 10 year) may stay in India up to 180 days on a single visit regardless of duration of visa.
Foreigners visiting India on long term (more than 180 days) Student Visa(S) (including those coming for study of Yoga, Vedic Culture, Indian system of dance and Music), Research Visa(R), Employment Visa(E), Missionary Visa (M), Medical Visa(M) or Medical Attendant (MX) Visa are required to get themselves registered with concerned FRRO/FRO within 14 days of his/her first arrival, irrespective of the duration of their stay.
Citizens of Nepal and Bhutan, although Nepalese nationals need a visa if entering India from China.
Nationals of Maldives do not require a visa for entry into India for tourism purpose and stay up to 90 days.
Tourist-Visa-On-Arrival (TVOA). Citizens of the following countries no longer need to apply for a visa prior to arrival: Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands,Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam.
India Visa on Arrival are only issued at Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai & Trivandrum international airports. Visa on Arrival is a single entry, 30 day visa. A maximum of two TVOA are allowed within a calendar year. Tourist Visa on Arrival are not extendable and may not be converted to any other type of visa.
What Does Overstay Mean?
Overstaying a visa in India means remaining in the country beyond the stipulated 180 day period allowable by Indian law.
What Will Happen to Me if I Overstay?
It is a criminal offense to overstay a visa in India. Travelers must pay a fine of $30 USD, plus regular fees for extension (Relevant visa fees as per duration of stay and type) is charged. Jail time is possible depending on the situation. You also risk a future block on future visits to India. A tax clearance certificate may be requested showing you have changed your money legally.
How Will They Know?
All legitimate hotels, hostels, homestays and guest houses must document each guest’s credentials upon arrival. This information is required to be submitted within 24 hours to Bureau of Immigration.
All water transportation employees are required to document each passenger’s credentials upon embarking.
Airline employees and immigration officers must notify proper authorities in the case of visa overstay. Overstays of 1 day are treated the same as 30 days. You are classified as an illegal immigrant. Your only legal right is that your embassy must be notified about your detention. Register a trip to India with your embassy
Ways to Avoid a Visa Overstay
India visas are valid from the date of application, NOT the date of issuance, NOT from the day you arrive in India. Flight plans should be make accordingly.
The 180 maximum stay duration begins on the day you arrive in India. Many flights arrive late at night so check your passport for the date stamped. In some cases you may pass through customs before midnight which will count as one day in the country before even leaving the airport. Departing international flights often fly in the early morning hours. This would be considered another day. Be sure to count your days correctly if staying up to the maximum limit.
How Can I Get a New Visa While In India?
Border run to a neighboring country. Flying to Nepal for a day or two can essentially reset the 180 day stay limitation. Visitors with 5 or 10 year India tourist visas can reenter, in theory, without hassle. Travelers on 6 month visas would need to apply for a new India visa as soon as they left.
Are There Exceptions?
If you are in India and have overstayed your visa or want to file a visa extension, you must visit the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
You can receive a 15-day extension from the FRRO for immediate reasons of illness, death or flight problem. A note or certificate from a licensed medical professional must be provided in the case of medical emergencies.
A one-month extension can be granted for serious illness, death, marriage or travel disruption.
Off the Record
Stories of covert border crossings into Nepal to obtain backdated passport stamps are highly questionable. Excuses of non-refundable plane tickets or heavy airline penalties for changing dates will not muster any sympathy by immigration officials. Baksheesh can be your friend but don’t expect it to solve this problem.
East Block-VIII, Level-II, Sector-1, R.K. Puram, New Delhi-110066
3rd floor, Special Branch Building, Badruddin Tayabji Lane, Behind St. Xaviers College, Mumbai-400001
Shastri Bhawan, 26, Haddows Road,
237, Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose, Road, Kolkata-700020
123-D, Ranjit Avenue, Amritsar-143001
Office of the FRRO, 5th Floor, ‘A’ Block, TTMC, BMTC Bus Stand Building, K.H. Road, Shantinagar,
Bangalore – 560027
Office of the FRRO, Old Begumpet Airport, Begumpet, Hyderabad