What is the change? The Indian Consulate in San Francisco has imposed extensive new requirements on U.S. travelers applying for business visas.

What does the change mean? Affected travelers are now required to provide six months of personal bank statements, hotel and flight itineraries, and an additional letter of support from their U.S. employer. The letter of support must state the precise nature of the traveler’s activities in India and list the name and company address of the individual who signed the required letter of invitation.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Business visas.
  • Who is affected: U.S. nationals applying for business visas.
  • Impact on processing times: There is no evidence that processing times themselves have been affected, but the new requirements may add significant time to the overall application process.
  • Business impact: The change adds significant additional documentation requirements for business travelers.

Background: Over the course of the past week, the Indian Consulate in San Francisco began requiring new document requirements for travelers seeking business visas. BAL will follow whether the requirements will be implemented at other consulates in the U.S.

A statement posted to the website of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on July 9 does not provide a reason for the recent changes, but does say that the Indian Embassy and consulates “reserve the right to seek additional documentation at their discretion” from visa applicants. The statement also warns travelers not to book travel arrangements without first obtaining the relevant visa for their travel.

BAL Analysis: BAL has only seen the new requirements implemented in San Francisco thus far, but business travelers should consider preparing the additional documentation no matter which consulate they are using when applying for a business visa. While the additional requirements add to the time required to apply for a visa, delays resulting from a lack of proper documentation could be significant.

Employers should also be aware that while electronic tourist visas (formerly called visas on arrival) are available for very limited business activities, the safest route for travelers seeking to enter the country for business activities is to obtain a multi-year business visa before entering India.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL representative.

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