In an effort to streamline the visa regime, the government of India is preparing to introduce distinct codes for various visa categories and sub-categories and offer more countries visa-on-arrival facility.
Home ministry sources reportedly stated that the e-tourist visa could be renamed e-visa with specific codes being given to each of its sub-categories such as e-medical visa, e-tourist visa and e-business visa. A senior official was quoted by the Times of India as saying that the idea behind visa codification, akin to the system followed by America, is to make sure that immigration is seamless for foreigners. The official said that India was currently offering 24 categories of visas such as employment, business, tourist, diplomatic, student, research, spouse and conference visa, among others. The idea was to facilitate the immigration officer to collect adequate information about the reason for visiting by merely glancing at the code mentioned in the visa.
It would reduce space for discretion for immigration officers when questioning foreign visitors as part of immigration checks, the officer said.
The simplified visa regime has reached an advanced stage of talks and, in this regard, a Cabinet note is expected to be passed soon. A crucial modification of visa norms is the extension of visa-on-arrival facility, which is now being offered only to Japanese citizens.
The officer concluded by saying that in contrast to the e-visa facility being extended to 150 countries, visa-on-arrival would only be granted to citizens of a few, non-risk nations.