What’s the real deal with India’s 60-day rule on a visa?

If my friend got this wrong, we’re f&#$ed. šŸ˜‰

As many of you may know, India has an interesting requirement when traveling on a visa, that you can only enter India once on a visa in a 60 day period… under most circumstances. Or so I’m told by the handful of people that emailed me since last night, given that I’m going to India and the Maldives next month.

As of now my friend and I are traveling to India for two weeks, and in the middle of the trip going to the Maldives for four nights.

So common wisdom is that you can’t enter India twice within a 60 day period, though my friend insists it’s fine. He points me to this link, which states the following:

Question: I am traveling back and forth from India within the two-month period but during one single trip. Do I need a Permit to Re-enter?
Answer: If the visa holder is traveling to multiple countries on the same itinerary, no permit is needed as long as trip follows the itinerary exactly. The visa holder must carry a copy of the itinerary to show the Immigration Officer. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be granted re-entry by the immigration official.

So who’s right? I’d love nothing more than to prove my friend wrong, given that he’s almost always right. Wait a second, no I wouldn’t, that would botch up our whole trip. Crap.

Comments

  1. Not true, at least not as of last November. I worried about the same issue last fall. I had planned a trip JFK-DEL, 1 day stop in DEL, then DEL-KTM, 2 weeks in KTM, then back to DEL for 1 week before flying DEL-JFK again.

    As long as you have a travel itinerary that justifies your multiple entry, they will allow it. I would check with the agency issuing your visa just to make sure.

  2. I will be spending a week in India prior to a cruise which, while leaving from Mumbai, will be sailing to Sri Lanka before returning to India within 60 days. If this visa requirement is true then my initial Indian visa would not be honored on my return. Since my cruise line has not warned me about this, I tend to think the initial visa will be honored, but think it prudent to phone the Indian consulate where my initial Visa is issued for advice.

  3. Yep its true, and it is enforced. I had a friend flying LAX-BOM-DXB-BOM-LAX. He went to Dubai for a week and came back and they would not let him re-enter. He had to fly back to Dubai, apparently either cleared some paperwork or pulled some strings, and a week later was allowed re-entry. You can definitely get around it….just not entirely sure about how myself.

  4. The Q&A you posted is correct. While you have a high chance of being admitted back into India since you are traveling on one itinerary, it is not guaranteed. The rule was put into place last year because of terrorists frequently visiting India for planning purposes. While the rule does hurt some travelers like you, most are unaffected by it. Also, a multiple entry visa will not help you bypass this rule. I think the safest thing you can do now is write a letter to the Indian embassy in DC explaining your situation and see if they can give you a letter which you can present to the passport control officer in India.

  5. @EW @ World Wing Exp- Even for 10 yr visa holders this stupid reentry rule applies.

    Ben- The stupid rule is enforced. It depends on the immigration person you deal with on reentry. As Krish pts out, direct your question/concerns to Travisa. They handle most Indian Visas apps.

  6. rapidtravelchai.com has a couple posts about indian visas.

    my memory is that you’ll be OK if you have the itinerary but surf on over and rad what he says. he’s btdt…

  7. or you could bribe them. why do you think they leave flexibility in for the official to enforce the rule? bribery is built into the system there. My coworker (…indian) says there’s always a price, it’s always a negotiation, and would definitely work at the border.

    take it with a grain of salt.

  8. From Wikitravel:

    “It’s wise to ask for a multiple entry visa even if you aren’t planning to use it – they cost the same, are handed out pretty liberally and come in handy if you decide last minute to dip into one of the neighboring countries. However, even on multiple entry visas there is supposed to be a two month gap between leaving India and coming back into the country. If attempting to reenter the country before two months have passed, you will be asked for details of your flight home and be made to pay a bribe (up to US$50) to get them to sign you back in to the country. This is true at smaller land entry points. More convenient is simply to visit the Indian embassy in the country from which you plan to enter India and complete the paperwork authorizing the early entry. The embassy will then paste a cool endorsement sticker in your passport, and you’ll be set to reenter India.”

    http://wikitravel.org/en/India#Get_in

  9. @raf: It’s one thing for an Indian to bribe them. But a foreigner might not want to try that. They might attempt to arrest you because they’re offended or want to cheat you even more. It’s not worth the risk in my opinion.

  10. It’s a good flight ORD-DEL, I took this same American one about this time last year. It was mostly empty so despite mileage-running in Economy for Platinum status, I got to lay flat in an entire row. I returned on itinerary from BOM (Mumbai) – BRU – ORD – DCA operated by Jet Airways on BOM-BRU leg….food was definitely better than American šŸ™‚

    Lucky, your best bet’s to get a multi-entry visa if you haven’t gotten the visa already. Follow the rules to the letter, the Indian government agencies are bureaucratic as can be. A friend who lived, went to school, and worked there for several years had trouble and had to pull connections at the embassy in Washington DC. If not multi-entry visa, get whatever permits are required. In any case, make sure you call the consulate that’s closest to you and cover every angle with their officers. Better here than over there.

    PS for Delhi, khan chacha’s kebabs and paratha-walla gully are best for street food. In Jaipur, I’ve heard Chokhi Dhani (spelling may vary) on the outskirts is a great restaurant/cultural center. Food is vegetarian, but super authentic. For meat dishes, Lal Maans is a great Rajasthani lamb dish. At Ranthambore hope you see tigers…we were in a jeep and saw one less than 10 feet from us, sitting in a puddle of mud.

  11. the advice here all sounds sensible. That last sentence of the Q&A is one enormous caveat. I would just be safe and get one for multiple entries.

  12. Please, if you are a foreigner – DO NOT try to bribe in India, you never know the BKM for bribing and may fall into trouble!

    Yes, the rule applies and its not for terrorists as someone quoted as much as it is for the illegal workers who want to enter India and work there illegally, I am told.

    Its unfortunate that you have to go through this but your only chance is to get a re-entry permit and contact the Indian Consulate in advance and arrange it.

    For a change, I feel good that I never have to go through this crappy rule!

  13. Someone quoted that they did not have issues re-entering from KTM, know well that there is no visa requirement between India and Nepal – hence you were okay. It’s not a function of your itin, in the first place – you are not even supposed to plan an itin like that. Do not tell them to allow you in just because you are booked in that manner.

    And if you did not read any news, know well that INDIA is rising against corruption big time (google for Anna Hazare) and the Immigration officers would want to put their best foot forward and be strict and follow the rule!

    And multiple entry visa doesn’t overrule this rule.

    Your only bet is to get a business visa if you have a valid work relation in India – there this rule does not apply.

  14. Write a letter (with an envelope and stamp!) to the Indian Embassy in DC with a copy of your itinerary and visas (for both of you) asking if you will be allowed re-entry and if you need to do anything further. If they say you’re fine, the letter you get back should be sufficient to convince anyone at the border is uncooperative when it comes to the same itinerary exception.

  15. Lucky, it appears you will be all right with the Visa that you acquired, but I would suggest getting the 5 or 10 year Visa, as it will save you money in the long run. I found the following info here with selecting US national and tourist visa in the drop down boxes: https://www.indian-visa.com/requirements/gather?apply=inperson

    A Tourist visa is given to those visiting India for tourism or other non-business related purposes.

    Applicants volunteering, working with charities or working with non-profit organizations must apply for an Employment visa.

    5 year and 10 year Tourist visas are available only to US citizens under a bilateral arrangement.

    There should be a gap of at least 2 months between two separate visits to India on a Tourist visa. For Tourist visa holders who wish to visit India within 2 months of their last visit, an application for a Permit to Re-enter India is necessary. No Permit is needed if the visa holder is traveling to multiple countries on the same itinerary and the trip follows the itinerary exactly. The visa holder must carry a copy of the itinerary to show the Immigration Officer.

    All non-US passport holders are only eligible for up to a Six (6) month Tourist visa.

    Irrespective of the duration of validity of visa, on each visit maximum period of stay in India is limited to 6 months (180 days). Please note the visa is valid beginning on the day it is issued. So a 6 Month visa issued on January 1 would be valid until June 30.

  16. I think what we have learned from all of this is…check the visa requirements BEFORE you buy the ticket šŸ˜‰

  17. Lucky,

    I was in the EXACT same scenario last month, when I was visiting India for 3 weeks and spent 4 nights in the Maldives in the middle of my trip. I’m a US citizen with a 10-year visa and was flying out of Bangalore on Air India BLR-MLE-BLR.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t have your foresight and realized this might be a problem when I was clearing immigration on the way to the Maldives and the immigration officer told me to “stay away 2 months before I return.” I just nodded, because I wasn’t about to skip the Maldives and didn’t think he could do anything for me.

    When I got back to Bangalore and the immigration officer pointed out I’m coming back sooner than 2 months, I feigned ignorance. I told him it was just a short trip and I was coming back to India for a few days before catching a flight back to the U.S. and showed him my itinerary. He took my passport and itinerary and left to go talk to another immigration officer for a while before coming back and motioning me to a desk where a supervisor sits behind all the immigration desks. Without asking me any questions, he took a 1-page “Re-entry” permit out of his desk and started filling it out and gave it to me to sign when he was done. He told me to give it to the immigration officer when I left for the US. The whole thing took about 15 minutes and never did anyone suggest I wouldn’t be able to get into the country.

    I think you’ll be fine.

  18. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BRIBE AN IMMIGRATION OFFICER OR ANY FOREIGN OFFICIAL. Unless of course you wish to go to a foreign jail. Just get the re-entry permit.

  19. @Matthew- We will look for you on that show on Nat’l Geographic Channel, Locked Up Abroad! Let us know when your segment appears. I don’t think many of these foreign country jails are the Park Hyatt!

  20. I went India last year that included a trip to Kathmandu in the middle of the tour. I got the re-entry visa. When I came back into India, the immigration officer said it was not necessary for KTM only. My re-entry visa also a had a notation that I was to register with the local police when I re-entered the country that I did not notice. When leaving India for the final time,they asked to see the copy of my registry with the police which, of course, I did not have. Initially, I was told I had to go back into Delhi and register with the police. After an hour of deliberation, they decided to let me get on my flight.

  21. @Matthew-Well actually Matthew many times. I was born there! I have lived in the U.S. now for many yrs, though. (I prefer the Park Hyatt just like you. I’ve read the reviews you have written on numerous Park Hyatts on your website. I still think your review of the Park Hyatt Tokyo was biased.)

  22. If you manage to get on the flight back to India, you’ll be able to manage the issue somehow. The trouble will be only if the airline staff will not let you board the flight. What I have heard from others is that Emirates enforces the rule religiously, and AirIndia folks don’t seem to care.

  23. WĆ© have been To india and them to Neple and back to india no problem as long as you follow the iternary i Spoke to the immigration of Concerns on arrivals and departire

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