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India's changes in Visa Laws Impacting Business as Mission Companies

By Tom Sudyk - EC Group International is becoming increasingly aware that India is tightening its visa policies. Last month an associate of ours was turn back at the boarder with a valid tourist visa. Now the government is announcing that those in India on long-term tourist visas will be required to be out of the country for two months prior to reentry.

The U.S. Mission in India wishes to inform U.S. citizens traveling to India that the Government of India is reviewing its regulations pertaining to the entry of American citizens holding long-term Indian tourist visas. To date, these new regulations are not finalized and are being implemented inconsistently. The U.S. Embassy and consulates throughout India have received conflicting information regarding the new rules, but it is clear that the rules will only affect those who wish to enter India on a tourist visa within two months of their last departure from India. Tourists traveling to or departing from India are urged to review travel plans in light of these changing procedures and to contact the nearest Indian High Commission or Foreign Registration Office to ensure they have the most current information.

December 9, 2009 American Citizens Services Unit, U.S. Consulate General, 78, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai 400 026, India

This creates a significant problem for missionaries who are living in India on tourist visas and are maintaining residency by brief boarder crossing trips.

Our research indicates that this tightening of policy may stem from the recent arrest of David Headley, a US Citizen, now implicated in the Mumbai terrorist attack last year. David traveled extensively to India on a tourist visa scouting for the attack. Born Daood Gilani in Washington, D.C., in 1960 to a Pakistani father and an American mother he lives with his wife and children in Chicago. He changed his name to David Headley (Headley being his mother's maiden name) in 2005. Authorities say the change was made to ease travel and make him seem more American. He did not use his true fathers name on his Indian visa application, which would have identified him as the son of a former Pakistani diplomat. Headley claimed to have been employed by First World Immigration Services, a company owned by Pakistan-born Canadian citizen Tahawwur Hussain Rana. Rana was arrested on conspiracy charges.

The Indian government has also announced that there will be more scrutiny of business visa applications and that this will cause delays in processing visa requests. Given the employment claims of Headley it can be expected that Indian law enforcement authorities will be investigating those already holding business visas to determine if the businesses are legitimate enterprises and not terrorist fronts. Such scrutiny may place missionaries using business visas in the crosshairs of anti terrorism investigations.

Those conducting legitimate commercial business activities in India should not be affected although delays may be experienced in processing new business visa application.

Enforcement so far has been at exit from India with passports being stamped with a reentry requirement or at immigration though denial of entry. If you are denied entry and have a valid visa the airlines are required to return you to point of origin. I will keep you informed of new information as it develops.

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posted by Justin Forman | 12.14.2009 - 7:43 PM


I'm amazed at how visa rules can sometimes be in a steady state of flux. At least in this case though it sounds like there is some reasonable rationale for the changes.
commented by Anonymous Chris Cree, 11:01 AM  

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