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Who is Eligible for the India Emergency Visa?

International travelers need proper authorization from the Indian government to visit the country even for an emergency. Though the electronic visa has considerably reduced the processing time for an Indian visa for tourism, business and medical treatments, it still takes three to four working days for the visa to be delivered. For emergency situations this timeline may be too late.   

The Indian government has introduced an emergency visa. Here’s what travelers need to know about the Indian emergency visa. 

What is an Emergency Visa to India?

An Indian emergency visa is a special travel authority granted by the Indian government exclusively for Indian origin Americans who need to travel to the country following an emergency like losing a family member. 

People of Indian origin living in the US who have a genuine emergency to attend to are eligible for this visa. They should provide an American passport or permanent residency card and an OCI (Overseas citizen of India) card to get this visa. Note that the emergency visa will not be issued to attend a family reunion. 

How to Apply?  

Applicants can apply online at the official website. They may also need to contact the Indian mission or the office of VFS Global (the private agency outsourced by the Indian government to handle visa processes) near them via email or telephone. The VFS office has offices in Washington, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta. The offices can be contacted from Monday to Friday between 9 am to 4 pm. 

Applicants can also contact the emergency visa helpline (at +1-415.528.1235) on weekends and holidays. 

Officials from the visa application center will personally contact the applicants immediately after receiving the online application. He/she may ask for additional documents. Once verified the visa will be processed. 

Note that an India emergency visa is valid for six months. 

Documents Needed for An Indian Emergency Visa

Apart from regular documents like passport and flight tickets, the applicants have to submit documentary evidence to prove the emergency. This includes

  • A letter from the hospital indicating a medical emergency in the immediate family
  • A death certificate to prove the unfortunate loss of life in the family

Other documents include 

Visa on Arrival for Emergency 

International travelers from eligible countries can make use of the India visa on arrival facility for emergency trips to India. At present, only citizens of Japan, United Arab Emirates and South Korea are eligible for this. 

Citizens of the above countries who are arriving from Pakistan or who have a Pakistani origin are not eligible for visa on arrival in India.   

The validity of this visa is up to 60 days. VOA is available only at six international airports in the country such as Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. 

The End of the Visa on Arrival Program 

The visa on arrival program has ended. Currently, only a select group of nationalities can get the VOA, but must have previously traveled to India on a regular visa.

Otherwise, travelers will not be permitted to enter the country if they do not have a visa in hand. In fact, most airlines will not even let them board the plane.

India ended this program for several reasons, including:
  • The eVisa and traditional visa programs allow the government to better track foreigners who are in the country.

  • The eVisa and traditional visa programs allow better pre-screening of travelers before they enter India, adding to the country's safety and security.

  • There are other ways to get expedited visas to India, so the visa on arrival program was no longer needed or necessary.

Other Ways to Get an Expedited India Visa 

Travelers who have relied on the visa on arrival program or who find themselves in urgent need of a visa to India don't need to worry. There are other ways to get a visa to India quickly, in case of an emergency. These options include:
  • Applying for an eVisa. Travelers hear back on this in 2-4 business days, which is fast enough even for many emergencies.

  • Expedited visa service. Travelers can work with us to get their eVisa in 1-2 business days, twice as fast as the regular application.

  • Visit the embassy. Indian embassies and consulates around the world have the discretion to offer visas very fast, sometimes even on the same day as the application is submitted. Travelers can make an appointment, show up with the correct documentation, pay the visa and expediting fees, and explain their situation. They may be able to get a visa to India faster than they'd ever thought possible.
Travelers who choose the eVisa route can fill out the application here. Those looking for expedited visa service can find their application here. Both applications are simple to fill out and contain straightforward instructions for each step.
Applicants need only remember that the information they enter needs to exactly match the information on their passports.

Once they finish the application, applicants need to make sure they pay the relevant fees. Then they can submit the application and watch their email for notice that their visa has been approved.

Travelers who need expedited service can contact us to determine the best way for them to get a visa to India. We would love to help make that trip happen fast!

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