The Indian government is embracing the spirit of giving this holiday season as it announced its plans to unroll an electronic travel authorization (ETA) system by the end of October. This development in immigration processing comes on the tails of a successful year operating a visa-on-arrival program, which experienced an increase of 39.2% in the issuance of visas on arrival during identical periods in 2013 and 2014.
Once implemented, ETA will permit foreign travelers to apply for a visa and receive online confirmation within three to five business days. ETA will be available for a 30-day period from the date of the tourist’s arrival in India. The government will establish an independent website to extend the e-visa scheme to foreigners intending to visit India as tourists. To get the visa, individuals will have to apply through the designated website along with submitting the required documentation and fees.
Currently, the nascent ETA program will be extended to about 30 countries, including the United States, Japan and South Korea. Sources say that those countries already being given visa-on-arrival privileges will be able to apply for participation in the ETA program. Countries such as Germany, Israel, and Russia are currently under consideration for future coverage. Conversely, the countries that are unlikely to be on the list include SAARC nations and countries that are on a “prior reference” list which include Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Afghanistan.