It is likely Australians will soon find travelling to India a whole lot easier thanks to a new visa scheme. Travellers are expected to be able to apply for a 30-day single-entry tourist visa online, making the visa process a whole lot easier and less time consuming.
Sunil Nirbhavane, Tourist Information Officer at India Tourism in Australia, says the addition of Australia to India's visa-on-arrival program is "likely to be officially confirmed in the next couple of weeks" and is "a very exciting prospect for Australians and India alike."
Until now, the program, which was launched in 2010 in a bid to accelerate a growth in tourism, has only been available to citizens of 12 countries, including Finland, Singapore, South Korea and Japan. This latest rollout is likely to include citizens of Australia, New Zealand and the USA, although the full list of eligible countries is not yet available.
The visa-on-arrival program is similar to the USA's ESTA program in that you submit an online application including a passport scan and a photograph. A response is received within 72 hours and, if the application has been approved, an electronic travel authorisation is emailed to you. You then print and present this on arrival in India.
Currently Australian travellers have to endure the lengthy process of applying for a tourist visa via post or in person in the country's capital cities. It is hoped this new streamlined scheme will make India as accessible to Australians as popular holiday destinations Bali and Thailand.
It's likely that the visa program will be operating at the major Indian airports, but there is no confirmation yet as to which ones. It is expected that Australians will be able to apply for this 30-day tourist visa twice a year.