Update November 2014:The visa on arrival for India is now available! Have a look at the Indian visa on arrival application form to see if your country qualifies for hassle-free entry into India, then read how the visa on arrival for India works.
Update January 2013: The two-month gap for stays in India has been lifted.
Per the new Indian visa requirements, handwritten applications are no longer accepted. Anyone who wishes to visit India has to complete the lengthy Indian visa application form online, print it, then bring it to an Indian consulate along with the other necessary photos and documents.
While some parts of the Indian visa application form are straightforward, others are a little obscure and can result in your application being immediately denied -- and your visa fees forfeited!
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First, learn about travel visas, then use this guide for navigating your way through the pitfalls of the Indian visa application form.
Tips for the Indian Visa Application Form
While you should answer truthfully, don't worry about a stringent background check being performed. You should be primarily concerned with small mistakes on the form or causes for your application to be flagged.
When you go back to review/change/verify information, some of the yes/no questions such as 'Were your grandparents Pakistani nationals' will default back to yes! Be sure to toggle the answers back to 'no'.
Take your time and complete the via application correctly the first time. You cannot make changes once it it saved in their system, and must start all over on a new form if you catch mistakes later.
Getting Started on the Indian Visa Application Form
First, open the official Indian visa application form in a tab or new 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 the warning.
Note: 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.
Choosing an Indian Mission
Incorrect choosing the Indian mission on the top of the form is the #1 reason that applicants get immediately rejected.
The Indian mission should be the consulate where you are applying. If applying while at home in the US, don't choose a consulate based solely on driving distance. The India mission is based upon where you are currently living and applying (i.e., if your permanent address is in Chicago but you are working in Bangkok for one month, choose the Bangkok mission).
Tip: There is a push for you to apply for the Indian visa in your home country. Some Indian consulates, such as the ones in Malaysia, will not accept applications from non-residents. You will need to complete a non-resident form at the consulate if you are applying away from permanent address.
Completing the Indian Visa Application Form
Fields with obvious answers have been omitted below.
Present and Permanent Address
When applying in the US, the present address must be within range of the India mission you chose at the top of the form. Allahutaala ne qaumi loot par koun kaun sa azaab bheja. You will be required to show proof that you do reside at the present address (e.g., a copy of your driver's license or your name on a recent utility bill).
If you are applying for your Indian visa while already abroad, you should list the address of your hotel as your present address. Your permanent address is your home address in the US, Europe, etc.
Even if your spouse, father, or mother are deceased, you must list their full names and dates of birth.
Choosing a Profession for the Indian visa
If you are applying for a tourist visa, be wary of the many journalist-related choices listed in the profession drop-down box -- you may be rejected and asked to apply for a difficult-to-obtain journalist visa instead. Choosing 'UNEMPLOYED' is also not recommended. Simply choose 'OTHER' and enter a profession in the field below.
Type and Duration of Indian Visa
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. See more about Indian visa types.
The default length for a tourist visa is typically six months, however, some consulates such as the one in Chiang Mai, Thailand, only grant three-month Indian visas under ordinary circumstances.
Countries Visited in the Last 10 Years
This field on the Indian visa application form is small and serious travelers may not have room to list all of their countries. If you run out of space, list as many countries as you can and then attach an official letter to your application that lists the rest of the countries that you have visited in the last 10 years. 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 to get denied.
References in India
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 copy of the application in Adobe PDF format.
Don't be mistaken, just because your Indian visa application is saved in their system does not mean that you have applied -- it still must be printed, signed, and brought into an Indian consulate!
TIP: Don't panic when checking for mistakes once you print the application! It's normal for the completed Indian visa application to have some blank fields for questions that you were never asked.
Processing time for the Indian visa takes about a week; if approved, your Indian visa time begins running immediately rather than on the date that you enter India.