Will visa changes put India in the too-hard basket?

Applying for a visa to India will be more difficult after December, when the door closes on online applications, writes Michael Gebicki.

For a number of years, Indian visas have been outsourced to VFS Global and Australian passport holders have been able to apply for a visa over the internet.

This has been a convenient and speedy process but according to VFS Global, a new system will come into effect at some time in December 2014 invoking a biometric rule, which will require all visa applicants to make a personal visit to a VFS office.

These offices are located in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth.

Anyone living in a rural area will have to make an appointment with VFS and travel to their nearest office.

Those in Tasmania will be obliged to make a trip to Melbourne while for anyone living in Darwin, the closest VFS office is Perth.

Just over a year ago, a visiting high official from India's Ministry of Tourism held out the prospect of visas on arrival for Australian passport holders.

If implemented as planned, this new proposal is a step in the opposite direction.

For at least some Australians, the process of obtaining a visa will consign India to the too-hard basket, and visitor numbers will almost certainly fall. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Australia in mid-November and I hope he's reading.

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