Indian Prime Minister Modi recently visited Australia in 2014 and proudly announced a new travel scheme in which Australia joins the "exclusive" visa on arrival scheme for certain visitors to India (namely, for the purpose of tourism and visiting family/friends).
They called it TVoA or Tourism Visa On Arrival. Many Aussies including myself were thrilled at the idea of not having to line up at visa centers to apply for a visa beforehand when traveling to India. All we'd have to do is buy the ticket, land, go to customs, show our passport, and receive a 30 day clearance. I mean, this is what we're used to when traveling to many other countries including UK, Canada, USA (etsa), UAE, etc... Right?
Wrong. It turns out you actually have to "apply" for the visa through the ETA (electronic travel authority) program online. It's actually a full-blown visa application, followed by a US$60 fee.
The questions in the online application is more detailed than my recent visa application to China! So I think it's quite misleading that they call it a visa on arrival when it really isn't. Be ready to submit details of your employer and contact details, former or other citizenship status, education level, mom and pop's names and addresses, intended address while in India, across 5 pages of the online application. It does give you the option to save the application and resume at a later date, much like those intermissions you get in between a 4hr Bollywood movie.
Also you must upload a photo of yourself, not a selfie or anything, I just used the photo on my passport. This photo must be in JPEG format and less than 1MB. Then you have to upload a scanned copy of your passport in color PDF and this file can't exceed 300Kb. For this step I recommend scanning your passport using Genius Scan or any other handy app that saves scans to PDF on your smartphone. The file sizes are typically quite small yet good enough resolution to upload into your application.
Then you have to wait up to 4 days for approval, after payment of the fee of course. Basically from my recent experience (first trip for 2015), you should complete this application at least a week before traveling, or even booking your ticket.
I'm just curious though, since this TVoA for Australians just came out in December 2014, have any Australians actually booked a flight and went to India without completing the online application? I've been told this application is mandatory prior to arriving in India, but a call I placed to the Indian Consulate wasn't clear at all. Basically they just said that Australians will get Visa On Arrival.
Would love to hear of other Aussie experiences with the whole TVoA program recently introduce for travel to India. As far as I'm concerned right now, this application is far from being a true, and efficient, Visa on Arrival program. Nevertheless it's still worth it for a trip to Goa!Edited: 01 January 2015, 20:34