Delegates looking to visit India for international conferences, seminars or workshops organised by private entities will now be able to apply for conference visas from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Previously, conference visas were only given to delegates participating in events organised by the various ministries and government departments. Delegates that visited India for privately-organised events had to apply for business visas.
In another industry relief, the Ministry of Home Affairs also stated that manual prior clearance of visas at the ministry is now not required for all such events.
Business events stakeholders in India said this has been a long time coming, as they have been asking for such conference visas to be introduced.
“(For the past decade or so), we at the India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB) have been asking for conference visas (to cover) all types of conferences. Earlier, one had to apply for a visa three months in advance to attend a conference and approval used to come at the last minute. This was a major challenge for us. Now, delegates can visit Indian foreign missions to apply for a conference visa,” said Chander Mansharamani, vice chairman, ICPB.
Prior clearance will only be required if conference participants hail from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, foreigners of Pakistani origin and stateless persons. It will also be required if delegates arer equired to visit areas affected by terrorism or extremism like the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Chander added: “Without prior clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs, foreign missions did not entertain visa applications belonging to conference delegates.”
Currently, the Indian government is also looking to add the conference category to the e-visa list, which would further simplify the process of obtaining a conference visa.
In addition, the ministry will soon launch an online module for the submission of visa applications by the organisers of international conferences. Clearance will then be generated through the online system and sent to the organisers, where a copy will also be sent to Indian missions overseas.