The government’s much hyped and ambitious project of giving visa on arrival for tourists from 44 countries is facing criticism and identity crisis because of its nomenclature. What the government proudly boasts of as visa on arrival is actually nothing of its sort.
Earlier there used to be visa on arrival for 12 countries but now even that has been replaced by an e – visa which has to be applied by the travellers four days before their arrival. .
Internationally Visa on arrival means you can land in a country and you will get your visa stamped there but the ‘Visa on Arrival’ scheme, enabled by Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) launched by the Indian Ministry of Tourism is quite misleading because there is absolutely no provision of visa on landing.
The new scheme though has simplified the visa process as the travellers from eligible countries have to apply atleast four days before their arrival.
The other requirements include a passport valid for six months, a photograph and $60.You can upload these documents along with an online application, pay your visa fees via debit or credit card, and wait to receive an “electronic travel authorization” via email.
The traveller is eligible for this visa only if his sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sight-seeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives; short duration medical treatment or casual business visit and he should have a return ticket as well. Even you can’t extend this visa, or apply for it more than twice in a year.
With all these restraints, the Ministry of Tourism has launched this much hyped project to further add to the resentment of the people. Many travellers have already been misled by this scheme and had landed in India expecting a visa on arrival but had to return from the airport.
Because of all this confusion, government’s much-touted tourism initiative, the Tourism Ministry has decided to rename it to ‘Visa Online’ in an effort to end the confusion
Public Telegraph spoke to few of the people from Indian community and here is what they have to say about this scheme…
Dr Yadu Singh , President of Indian Australian Association of NSW Inc
“Prior to Tourist “Visa on arrival” (TVoA) enabled by Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) was introduced for 44 countries in November 2014, India did have a genuine TVoA facility for citizens of 12 countries. Unlike the current scheme, citizens of 12 nations then were able to go to India without needing to apply for ETA and get a Visa stamp in their passports. This was changed in November 2014. Now they have to apply for ETA a minimum of 4 days and maximum of 30 days before the departure and pay $60 fees. ETA is sent back within 72 hours. They must carry this ETA with them when they report to an Indian Immigration officer.
It is indeed somewhat confusing as current scheme is not exactly TVoA. There are countries like Singapore and others where a genuine TVoA is available without needing ETA for people of some select countries. I have used TVoA facilities at certain airports without applying for ETA.
Current Indian TVoA can, and has led, to some confusion among some travellers and even airline staff.
It is about information and education of relevant sectors, advising that an ETA is a must for every tourist who wants to avail TVoA in India. Communication can, and will, remove the confusion.
One way to streamline the scheme is to revert back to genuine TVoA (as was the case before November 2014) where ETA is not needed for the citizens of some select countries, and continue the current scheme of TVoA enabled by ETA for everyone else.
Indian Government posts in Australia and other relevant countries should use local media and Social Media to inform, communicate and educate potential travellers about the current status of TVoA enabled by ETA.
Dr Vikrant Kishore , Lecturer in Communication & Media Production at The University of Newcastle, Australia
“The visa on arrival scheme is actually quite misleading. If one has to apply at least four days before their travel to the country then how can it be considered ‘visa on arrival’? It is quite misleading! India should take a cue from countries, which actually provides this service the way it actually is meant for”.
“For example, each time I travelled to Thailand with my Indian passport, I never had to bother about any paperwork or application till the time I actually landed in the airport. The visa facilitation is very smooth and there were no bureaucratic hassles involved. But looking at the paperwork requirements and the application conditions, it is quite clear that we are following the same old route of visa application, albeit, this time it is just fast tracked and is online. Hope the conditions will be relaxed later on, and actual ‘visa on arrival’ in the Indian airports can be issued”.
Parveen Gupta, President AICCI
In my view VOA is a misleading term. Generally, visa on arrival means that you can book your tickets and will be granted visa on landing.
In case of Indian VoA, it is nothing but just worldwide accepted nomenclature of VoA. It is a positive step in making visa process simpler and quicker but still not VoA.
I strongly believe that all the good faith behind this step is negated by the fact that innocent tourists will land at the Indian Airport and will be deported because of this misleading term. Indian Government should come up with other term to describe this process more appropriately.
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