Immigration & Citizenship in India

The Constitution of India and its Citizenship Act governs the laws pertaining to immigration or citizenship. The Government of India has formed Bureau of Immigration (BOI) to systematically carry out immigration functions in India. In India, there are different types of visas for different purposes, and eligibility criteria for each may also differ. This article provides a detailed account of all such visas, immigration and citizenship policies in the country.

Fri Aug 19 2022 | Govt. Agencies and Taxation | Comments (0)


The constitution of India and its Citizenship Act governs the laws pertaining to immigration or citizenship.  Articles 5 to 11 in Part II of the Indian Constitution ascertain the status of a person as citizen of India and pertaining provisions relating to citizenship of India. In addition to this, there are other Acts governing immigration into India which includes The Citizenship Act, 1955; The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939; The Immigration (Carriers Liability) Act, 2000; The Passport (entry to India) Act, 1920 etc.

The Government of India has formed Bureau of Immigration (BOI) to systematically carry out immigration functions in India.

Immigration Categories

Foreigners with an intention to come to India must carry valid passports of their country of origin and a valid Indian Visa.  Any foreign national without a visa bearing apt validity dates and number of entries is subject to instant deportation.

Eligibility criterion for immigrant and non-immigrant visas

Immigrant Visas: There are different types of Immigrant Visa namely Long Term (i.e. more than 180 days) Student Visa, Medical Visa, Research Visa and Employment Visa.

  1. An employee or paid intern of an Indian Company.
  1. People travelling to India for volunteer work with any registered NGO and it requires a special endorsement on the E-visa saying ‘To Work with NGO’ (Name of NGO & place of work).

Eligibility Criterion

Only following categories of foreign national are eligible for an employment visa:

 Conditions for getting employment visa

Process or procedure involved 

Entry Visa

Generally, Entry Visa is granted to a spouse or dependent family member of a foreign national who has come to India on a long term visa on employment, business, and research or student visa.

Eligibility criterion

Condition for getting entry visa

The principal visa holder or foreign national must have obtained his/her visa. It is a pre-requisite for the applicants i.e. spouse or dependent family members.

Process of obtaining an Entry Visa

Medical Visa

Initially, the duration of the visa is up to a year or till the period of treatment, whichever is less. This is valid for maximum of 3 entries during the one year.  The duration of visa begins from the date of issuance.

Eligibility criterion

Process of obtaining medical visa

Student Visa (Long term visa)

Eligibility criterion

It includes multiple entry visas to genuine students who wish to pursue continuous studies at Indian Universities/educational institutions. It is valid for the period of study as permitted by the respective institution in India. The visa duration begins from the date of issuance and not on the date of entry.

Conditions for getting student visa

Process of obtaining student visa

Foreign Nationals entering India for studying or pursuing degree courses, must have their valid passport with an over 6-month valid visa obtained from Indian Mission or consulate abroad. The passport must contain minimum 2 blank passport pages for India Visa Stamps.

Non-Immigrant Visa

It includes short term stay visa for less than or equal to 180 days. There are different types of Non-Immigrant Visa namely, business visa, conference visa, emergency visa, research visa, student visa (provisional), tourist visa, tourist visa on arrival, transit visa and urgent visa.

Business Visa

This visa is granted to those applicants who intend to make a business related visit in India such as setting up a contract on behalf of its company, business meeting, making sales, exploring possibilities or monitoring supplies etc.

It is valid for minimum 1 to maximum 10 years with multiple entries and for US citizens it is valid for 5-10 years (Multiple-entry visa) and period of stay in India for each visit is limited to 6 months.        

Eligibility criterion

Conditions for getting Business Visa

Process of obtaining business visa

Foreign Nationals entering India for aforementioned business purposes must have their valid passport with a valid visa obtained from Indian Mission or consulate abroad.

Conference Visa

It is granted to applicants who wish to visit India to attend International conferences or in some cases to delegates, on certain subjects. The duration of this visa starts on the day of issuance and is valid for 3 months single entry visa.

Eligibility criterion

Conditions for getting conference visa

Process of obtaining conference visa

Emergency Visa

Eligibility & conditions

It is granted to persons of Indian Origin only who hold US passport during emergency situations like death or illness of blood relative or for the fulfilment of legal commitment. The consulate office will decide whether a situation constitutes emergency or not. This visa will not be available to applicants falling under reference categories.

Visit relating to wedding or for religious purposes or any visit for tourist/family do not fall within the scope of emergency visa.

Process of obtaining emergency visa

Research Visa

Eligibility & duration of visa validity         

It is granted to research professors or scholars or people participating in research conferences/seminars/workshops. It will be valid for entry into India for 4 weeks after it is issued. Its duration stands till the period of research. It has to be applied for at least 6 weeks prior to the date of departure to India.

Student Visa-Provisional

It is valid for only 3 months and is granted due to different reasons such as pending exams, in wait of admission letter from the University or other requirements. The applicant has to submit proof like provisional admission certificate or letter of offer from the institution etc. This visa cannot be extended further.

The process of application is same as that of Student Visa.

Tourist Visa

It is granted to the applicants who wish to visit India for sight-seeing, traveling, recreation or informally to visit their friends or attend any personal occasion. It is valid up to 180 days for non-US nationals and starts from the date of issuance. As per the bilateral agreement with USA, US nationals can obtain a 6 month, 5 years or 10 year tourist visa. It doesn't allow any extension of stay or any conversion into any other visa.


It allows only those people who intend to visit India for tourism purposes. Following people are not granted tourist visas

Condition for getting tourist visa

Process of obtaining tourist visa

Visa on Arrival for Tourism purposes

It is granted to applicant of certain countries and would be valid for only 30 days. It will be considered as single entry visa and is available only at international airports of India. It doesn't allow extension or conversion into any other visa except under extra-ordinary circumstances.          

Conditions for getting visa on arrival for tourism

Tourist on Arrival Visa procedure

As per the latest e-Tourist Visa facility, the applicant coming from any of the listed foreign countries can avail this facility in 4 simple steps.

Transit Visa

It enables the visa holder to travel via India to reach his/her final destination. It is valid for a single/double entry or for entry within 15 days from the issuing date. The maximum validity period of this visa is 3 days and only allows direct transit. The process of applying for transit visa is same as that of tourist visa.

Urgent Visa (San Francisco)

It is granted to applicants holding US passports and is issued on urgent basis i.e. on the same day of the application.  Here no prior appointment is required and applicants have to appear in person on walk-in basis to apply for the same. No agents are entertained or authorized to present any persons application. Any person having dual nationality or original link to countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran etc. are not eligible.


The eligibility criterion for persons (except Pakistani and Bangladeshi Nationals) applying under OCI scheme is as follows

It also include

  1. Parents are the citizens of India ; or
  1. One parent is a citizen of India; or


Exception under OCI Card

If the applicant holds a dual citizenship with Pakistan, then he/she has to apply for Indian Visa on his/her Pakistani Passport unless he/she shows that he/she has renounced his/her Pakistani Citizenship by showing his/her renunciation certificate as its evidence. While applying for visa on Pakistani Passport, the applicant must submit the Special Pakistan Application along with Sponsorship Certificate Form from Indian citizen residing in India.

Indian Citizenship

As per Citizenship Act, 1955, foreign nationals who have legally migrated to India can also acquire citizenship.

By Naturalization

A Foreigner not an illegal migrant can also acquire Indian citizenship if he/she is ordinarily resident in India for 12 years (where he/she should have resided throughout the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of the application and for 11 years in the aggregate in the 14 years preceding the twelve months). He/she has to fulfill other requirements specified in III schedule to the said Act also.

Procedure (Naturalization)

  1. Certificate of renunciation of his/her foreign citizenship issued by the Mission of concerned country.
  1. Original Challan as proof of deposit of prescribed fee.
  1. 3 passport size photographs duly attested by gazette officer 
  1. 3 specimen signature of the applicant
  1. Personal Particulars in Form X

Immigrant/Non Immigrant Indian Visas process

It is significant to understand the process of applying India visa. The brief glimpse is as under:



Foreign Nationals visiting India for business, employment, research, tourism, study or other valid reasons have to follow the governing rules, regulations, procedures specified in the Acts enacted by Government of India. Digitization has facilitated the processes by mere click of buttons. Bureau of immigration and other Government portal for visa applications provide all the relevant information and instructions as required for submitting application by foreign nationals. The aforementioned article gives a detailed view on main visa categories and process of immigration.

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