The tourism ministry on Monday decided to ask the home ministry to rename the ‘tourist visa on arrival’ (TVA) facility to ‘visa online’ to end confusion among travelers who land in India expecting to be issued visas at the airport only to be turned back as the TVA requires an advance online application.
Internationally, ‘visa on arrival’ means travelers can be issued a visa at the airport upon arrival. In India, this was the case from 2010 when the TVA facility was first offered to citizens of five countries. In November last year, it was expanded to cover 44 countries but there was a catch — now, it was enabled by electronic travel authorisation. This meant that eligible travellers would have to apply for their visas online at least four days before their arrival in India.
The original ‘visa on arrival’ scheme was discontinued on January 29, leading to widespread confusion as the distinction between TVA and TVA-enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) was not made clear on any government website.
Tourism minister Mahesh Sharma, who chaired a meeting on Monday in this regard, acknowledged there was a problem. "We have decided to send a suggestion to the home ministry to change the name of visa on arrival to visa online. This will help tourists to better understand the process."
Subhas Goyal, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, welcomed the move. "I congratulate the tourism ministry for this initiative. We had been always demanding this."
The government plans to expand the scheme to 150 countries. Official sources said 50 more countries could be added to the list by June this year.