Traveling To India During Covid
In this post, you will find all the essential information about traveling to India. This post will outline information such as India travel requirements and the required documents.
I had such a great time growing up in India. Unfortunately, although I enjoyed India and its cultural experiences, I had to leave as I wanted to study in the United States.
After a few years, I gained my US Green card, which meant I had to surrender my Indian passport. So, unfortunately, I could not enjoy visa-free travel to and from India.
A few years ago, my grandmother, Binita, passed away. For obvious reasons, I had to apply for an Emergency Visa to enter India, as I am classified as an NRI (non-resident Indian).
This post will cover everything you need to know about the India Emergency Visa and the exact steps you can follow during your application process.
Let's get started:
Before I start off, let me first explain the India Emergency Visa. The Emergency Visa service is only available to US passport holders of Indian origin and their family members who need to travel to India due to a genuine family emergency, such as a critical illness or death in the family. Please note that it is not the same as a regular visa.
The India Emergency Visa is only available for citizens of Indian origin. Therefore, it can not be used as a medical visa. With that being said, you must provide proof of renunciation before applying for the India Emergency Visa.
Suppose you are not traveling for an emergency. In that case, you can also apply for an e-visa, tourist visa, or business visa. Feel free to check out our guide on the India Visa for US citizens.
As you might know, all visa applications have required documents that you must submit during your application process. It can be confusing but bear with me as I explain everything in detail below.
You must complete the online visa application form. The application form requires you to submit personal information, such as family details, passport information, and some unique questions regarding past activities (such as your criminal record).
When applying for minors, please note that all Minor applicants must write their name or sign in the space provided below the photograph on the first page of the application form. Minor applicants under the age of five may leave their left thumb impression in the space provided. Both parents must sign on the last page of the application. Both parents must also sign on page 2 of the online application form below the minor's signature/thumb impression.
It is important to note that only 1 physical photograph must be attached to the application form without a staple. In my experience, I just used regular store-bought glue.
You must submit a digital photo on the India Government Online portal. This will be done during your online application process. Be sure that your digital photo meets the following requirements.
Suppose you have ever held an Indian passport. In that case, you must provide proof of your Renunciation of Indian Citizenship with your visa application. The first document that can be used as proof of renunciation is a certificate of surrender issued by the Embassy or the Consulate of India.
Alternatively, you can submit the deemed surrender certificate issued by the Embassy or the Consulate of India. Both the Surrendered Passport along with the copy of the Renunciation Certificate would be needed for Indian passports surrendered after May 2010
It is important to note that your proof of address must match the present address as stipulated on your application. Proof of address can include any of the following: driving license, state-issued ID, utility bill (not older than 3 months), valid lease agreement, or an income tax return.
Suppose you are a University or College student living on campus. In that case, a letter from your institution on the institution letterhead explaining your current address will suffice.
Important note: PO. Box Number will not be applicable to submit as proof of address.
You have to submit proof of why you are applying for an emergency visa. For example, if you travel to attend a funeral, this will either be a death certificate or a duly signed and stamped hospital certificate.
An essential document will be your passport. You must submit your physical passport with photocopies to confirm your eligibility. Note that you are only required to submit biographical photocopies of your passport. It is important that your passport has a minimum validity of 6 months and should at least have two blank pages. Your proof of passport will also be used for granting your e-Visa and a re-entry permit.
As I mentioned earlier, only citizens of Indian origin are applicable to apply for the emergency India Visa. Therefore, there may be additional documents you are required to submit.
You will be required to prove that you're of Indian origin. Please note that 3 documents will count as proof for different circumstances.
If you are an Indian national, you must submit your passport. In addition, children of an Indian national, person of Indian origin, or OCI cardholder must submit a birth certificate and an Indian passport or OCI Card of either parent. Lastly, suppose you are a spouse of foreign origin of an Indian national, Person of Indian Origin, or OCI Cardholder. In that case, you must submit a Marriage certificate together with an Indian passport or OCI Card of the spouse.
The OCI refers to an overseas Indian citizen. It can only be applied for after the renunciation of your passport.
When it comes to minors, there are many documents that you need to submit during your application process. You will start by completing the parental authorization form (Annexure-B). The parental authorization form has to be signed by both parents and notarized.
You are also required to submit copies of the following documents; the birth certificate of the minor, passports and marriage certificates of the minors' parents, and US Visa status documents of non-US national parents.
Since December 13, 2021, the outsourcing service provider, VFS Global, has been accepting all visa applications, including Emergency Visa applications, strictly following the emergency criteria outlined in this post. With that being said, all applications to India have to be done through VFS Global. This rule was implemented by the government of India to ensure easier and faster visa applications.
I know you may feel overwhelmed by all the documents I mentioned, but don't fear. These are the last documents for your India Emergency Visa application.
The checklist is essential for your Emergency India Visa. This is a basic list with all the previously mentioned documents and is easy to get.
Apart from all the other documents, the checklist can help you gather your documents. It is helpful because you can mark all your documents off the checklist as you collect them.
You must print out the checklist and sign it after you have completed all the necessary information. Remember that you must submit the checklist with your application form.
The additional particular form consists of personal questions regarding the information that you used in your online application form.
The additional particular form (Annexure-A) is mandatory to submit during your application process. This form is required by VFS Global. If you do not submit it, your application will not be processed.
Lastly, you will need to add shipping labels to your application. This is only when you will make use of an external courier. If you use the VFS Global additional service, they will provide shipping labels. Ensure that you print out the shipping labels before sending your documents.
Suppose you plan to submit your documents in hard copy to the VFS India Consular Application Centre or The Embassy of India / Consulate General of India. In that case, this will not apply to you.
With each visa application, you will be required to pay visa fees. For example, the visa fees for the Emergency Visa will be as follow:
Therefore, the fee will be $218.90 for each India Emergency Visa.
The visa fees must be paid via Money order /Banker check in favor of "VFS Services (USA) Inc". As a disclaimer, I strongly recommend you verify the accuracy of all the details entered before making an online payment. VFS service fee, Courier fee, and a Convenience fee are not refundable under any circumstances.
If you would like to use the VFS courier service to return your passport, you will need to add USD 15 as courier charges to the total amount.
Okay, so now that you know which documents you will need for your Emergency India Visa application, we can get started with the application process. Follow me as I explain the step-by-step process you must follow when applying for your Emergency India Visa.
Before you actually start with your online application, you must download the checklist and the supporting documents that must be completed.
The supporting documents will include the checklist, the additional particular form (Annexure-A), and the parental authorization form (Annexure-B). The parental authorization form is only necessary if you apply for a minor.
After you have printed out the documents, completed and signed the documents, you can start with the application form. However, before I forget, ensure that you have all the required documents before starting your online application.
Now we can actually start with the online application. I have created a link above that will take you directly to the start of the online application.
You can get confused about what you must select when starting your application on the first page. But, fear not, as below, you will find what options you must choose to complete your Emergency India Visa application.
On the first page, you will find the required field "Indian Mission/Office." Here you must select your preferred embassy or consulate in the state where you are currently situated. Next, please find the options below:
After you have selected your Indian Mission/Office, you must fill in the rest of your personal details.
The checklist briefly mentions that you must choose "Entry Visa" when required to select your Visa type. In addition, you will also be required to select your "Purpose". If you are unsure what to choose, please see the below image that shows you what options you must select when applying for your Emergency India Visa:
After you have completed the first page of the application as outlined above, you will be redirected to a new page where you will find your Application ID. You must note it down as you will not receive a verification email to confirm your submission.
After completing the online application form and uploading your digital photograph that meets the specified requirements, you can submit your application.
Your online application will now be submitted. Luckily you followed my very important note above to save your Application ID. You must use your Application ID to print your "registered application form".
The first step of the submission process is to contact the VFS India Consular Application Centre or The Embassy of India / Consulate General of India via email to book your appointment.
Depending on the VFS Application Center that has consular jurisdiction over your state, you can use the following emails to book an appointment:
After you have sent your appointment email, a VFS representative will contact you on an expeditious basis. This email will serve as confirmation of your appointment.
You are almost at the end of your Emergency India Visa application process. Just a few last steps before you are on your way to India.
As the heading suggests, you will need to attend your appointment. This will typically be a short in-person interview with an embassy or consulate staff member. You will be asked a few questions regarding your trip details, nothing major.
Generally, you will submit all your documentation during your appointment. However, remember to sign the application form and checklist where needed before submitting your application.
You may be asked to submit additional documents when submitting your documents. Therefore, ensure that you have all the required documents mentioned in the checklist when submitting your application.
Please remember that Applications sent via courier to VFS India application centers will only be received on working days. Therefore, in cases of critical emergency on a weekend/holiday, please contact the Embassy of India / Consulate of India or VFS to submit your application in person.
The hard part is now officially over. All you have to do is wait for your application to be processed. As soon as your application is processed, you will receive an email to collect your approved Emergency India Visa.
Finally, you can now collect your visa at the VFS Application Center, where you submitted your documents. You can follow the helpline of the Consular office on how to collect your documents.
You deserve a big congratulation. Finally, you are done with your India Emergency Visa application.
The last thing you have to do is enjoy the company of your loved ones.