Thursday, 25 March 2010

Crazy Indian VISA rule made in January – you must be out of country for at least 2 MONTHS before returning to India even if you have a multiple entry

Yes it would seem, after much investigation the rumours are true. Even if you have been granted a VISA with allowable re-entry, the Indian Customs can and will deny you entry back into the country if you have not remained outside for AT LEAST 2 MONTHS!

On exit Customs officials are stamping some passports with a stamp reading you may not return within 2 months and others, like myself seem to get no stamp which is adding to the confusion as I flew my way from Delhi to Kathmandu in Nepal.
Even failing to verbally pass on this vital information to myself or other fellow travellers just seems crazy.

This seems absolutely absurd as it seems to apply to travelers who have already been issued a multiple entry VISA and now they have just slapped down this rule to include EVERYONE without any kind of notice. Initially I thought this was classic Chinese whispers amongst the backpacker community and just applied to people wanting to leave the country, get a new VISA and then return to India. Ok I guess I was trying to use some logic, stupidly my friend Pete reminded me!

You can apply for a ‘Permit to Re-enter Within 2 months’ ‘This permit is granted only if the need is urgent, and not for Business Activities/Employment or pursuing studies/research, etc.’ Or ‘If the visa holder is traveling to multiple countries on the same itinerary, no permit is needed as long as trip follows the itinerary exactly. The visa holder must carry a copy of the itinerary to show the Immigration Officer.’

Again this is just added bureaucracy making for more hassle and lining up in unorganised government offices, where process is extremely unclear and officials unhelpful. The BBC article written in December states that the Indian Government are using this as a justification because of David Headley’s involvement (who was charged in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks) due to his travel back and forward to identify targets.

Rumour has it that even some foreign nationals now have to return to their place of origin to gain a new VISA to return to India which in some cases can mean timely and expensive travel, rather than shooting off to Kathmandu or Bangkok to get a renewed VISA.

I hate to think how this will affect tourism in Nepal, as many backpackers wish to just trek or climb for a month and pop back over to India, within their 6 month VISA, now this seems a little more difficult and may take some extra planning & thought. Good old Indian bureaucracy....when will the unbelievable cease to amaze?

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