India has many new visa regulations, the most recent having been released in 2010. Most countries are not strict when it comes to volunteer visas, and in some cases you may be allowed to use a tourist or entry visa to do your volunteer work for a short period of time as you make preparations to get the right documents for your volunteer work.
For an Indian visa it is required that you apply for one from your home country only, it is not allowed to apply for one after your arrival in India, or even from an Indian high commission office in a country that is not your home country. All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. The only exceptions are nationals of Nepal and Bhutan who can enter India without a visa.
It is mandatory for application for a visa to India be completed online. Once the application has been completed online you must download & print all form/s, read and complete Checklist. Visa fees once deposited cannot be refunded even if requested service is modified or not granted. Validity of the visa begins from the date of issue. One more thing to note is that you may not apply for an Indian visa directly from the Indian high commission office, especially if in the UK or USA. You have to use VFS global if in the UK as they handle all their visa applications. Similar to this is Travis Outsourcing in the US.
For a volunteer in India you will need to apply for an employment visa, which covers both employment and volunteer work. However first you must ensure that you are going to work with a registered NGO in India. The charge for a 6 month employment visa in the U.K is £285, while it costs £310 for a one year visa. It is much cheaper for U.S nationals as it will cost them £85 for a 6 month visa or £110 for a one year employment visa.
To get an employment visa to India then you need to ensure that you have a Passport valid for a minimum of 190 days, with at least 2 blank pages, the Visa Fee, two recent identical passport-sized photographs (45 mm x 35 mm in size), a Printed copy of the completed online Application Form, an Invitation letters from the nonprofit organization you are going to be working with, and a Copy of a recent bank statement showing you can support yourself while in India. Also remember to carry with you your vaccination certificates if you are coming from a yellow fever high risk country, or have been to one in the recent past. Also ensure that all the other requirements you need to volunteer are in place, these include a Police Check, deposit, CV and Passport Style Photo, so that you can start volunteering as soon as you arrive.
Most working visas have a requirement that you register once you have arrived in India. To find out if your visa is one of those, then you need to check your visa carefully and try to identify a green stamp on the bottom left side, which will inform you that you need to register. To register you have to go to the local FRO Office (Foreigners Registration Office). You have to do this within 14 days of arrival in India.
When heading to the registration office you will need to bring along three standard passport photos, a Lease Agreement or a letter and a copy of an electricity bill from the house owners that you will be staying with, the letter should state that you are living at the address on the electricity bill. You will also need a color photo copy of your visa and arrival stamp, a color photo copy of the Picture page in your passport, a copy of the invitation letters from the organization you plan to work with, along with a copy of the license of the organization, and a letter from the organization that states that you have started volunteering, and finally 100 Rs registration fee.
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