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Background: – The Indian immigration laws provide for grant of a special type of visa known as ‘conference visa’ to foreign nationals who intend to visit India for attending a conference, seminar or workshop. The Ministry of Home Affairs (‘MHA’), Government of India has now come out with revised guidelines in the form of FAQs1 which deal with various aspects in relation to the grant of ‘conference visa’.

Key clarifications Definition

A conference, seminar or workshop (‘event’) is an event where substantive discussion, deliberations, interactions and exchange of thoughts and ideas will take place on a specific subject matter by the participants. However, the event does not include:

–        Meetings organised by business institution solely for the purpose of discussing business issues;

–        Sports meet/event organised by sports bodies in India;

–        Events of performing art such as drama festivals, etc;

–        Meet of businessman organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce for discussion on trade and business issues.

Eligibility

The conference visa may be granted to the foreign national subject to the below conditions:

–        The foreign national intends to visit India with the sole objective of attending such event.

–        The foreign national is of assured financial standing. A return ticket and availability of sufficient funds to support the stay in India may be considered sufficient for this purpose.

Procedure

–        The foreign national should along with the visa application submit an invitation letter from the organiser of the event.

–        Specified foreign nationals (See Note-1 ) and foreign nationals who are required to visit ‘restricted’ or ‘protected’ areas or any areas affected by terrorism, militancy, etc should obtain a prior security clearance from the MHA.

–        In case the organiser of the event is ministry/department of the Central or State Government, the request for security clearance needs to be submitted by the organiser at least 30 days prior to the commencement of the event. In other cases, where the organiser is a NGO or private institution the request for security clearance needs to be submitted at least 60 days in advance.

Duration

–        The ‘conference visa’ would be issued for the duration of the event and the necessary traveling time. However, in case the foreign national wishes to combine tourism with attending the event, the participant may be granted a maximum of 6 months visa and the visa would be subject to such conditions as applicable to ‘tourist visa’.

–        In case where the security clearance is required from the MHA, the visa would not be granted for duration longer than specified by the Ministry of External Affairs/MHA or the minimum period required.

Our Comments

The clarification issued by MHA will facilitate foreign nationals to obtain ‘conference visa’ if they are coming to attend any international conference/seminar/workshop in India. The clarification issued is a welcome step as the guidelines are now very clear on the procedure for grant of ‘conference visa’.

Note

1. Participants from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, foreigners of Pakistani origin and stateless persons.

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