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How to apply for an India student visa

You’ll need a student visa to realize your dream of studying abroad in India unless you’re a citizen of Bhutan, the Maldives, or Nepal.

To qualify for an Indian student visa, you’ll need to have been accepted into an officially-recognized educational institution. If your application is successful, you’ll be granted a visa for the entire duration of your studies, provided this is fewer than five years.

The cost of the student visa will depend on your nationality, but Americans can expect to pay roughly $102.70, with UK citizens being charged $236.70. You can find a detailed breakdown of the total cost by country here.

Steps in the visa application process

As long as you have all of the required documentation in order, the process of applying for an Indian student visa is simple and efficient. You’ll just need to follow these steps:

  1. Enroll at an Indian university: Receive a formal acceptance letter from your institution and pay any enrollment fees.
  2. Fill out the online visa application form: Be sure to complete all the requested personal details otherwise your application will be rejected.
  3. Upload a digital photograph: You’ll need to attach a passport-style photograph of yourself to your online application.
  4. Pay online: You’ll be asked to make an e-payment to the Indian authorities. The cost will depend on your nationality.
  5. Submit your online application: You won’t be able to edit your application after submission, so spare some time to proofread it before you send it off.
  6. Print a copy of your online application: You’ll need to present this document to an Indian visa application center (IVAC) or mission later in the process.
  7. Book an appointment with your closest IVAC or mission: Remember to bring along a copy of your online application and the specified supporting documents. A full documentation list can be found in the section below.
  8. Wait for a decision: There is no standard processing time for an Indian student visa, but most students will receive a decision within two weeks. If you’re successful, you can have your visa mailed to you or you can collect it from the IVAC or mission.

Required documents

When attending your appointment at the IVAC or mission, you’ll be asked to bring the following:

  • Passport with at least two blank pages and an expiry date beyond 180 days
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • A photocopy of your passport
  • Proof of where you’ll be living in India
  • A printed version of your online application
  • A formal admission letter from your university
  • Evidence of financial resources to cover your living expenses in India

Can your family join you in India?

If you have a spouse or children under the age of 18, they can be granted a dependants’ visa. An individual application needs to be submitted for each family member.

Dependants’ visas are normally approved for the same length of time as your student visa. However, this is decided on a case by case basis and some dependants’ visas are only valid for a short period.

Are you permitted to work in India?

As an international student, you won’t be allowed to work part-time alongside your studies. Therefore, you must have enough money to cover the cost of your tuition, accommodation, food, hobbies, and other essentials for the entirety of your program.

You’re permitted to take part in an internship or sandwich year as part of your program, but these placements are usually unpaid.

What to do if your visa is refused

A small percentage of student visas are denied because applications fail to meet the requirements set out by the Indian government. Although the IVAC or mission won’t be able to explain the exact reasons behind your application’s refusal, common reasons for rejection include failing to upload photos, an inaccurate or incomplete form, and a passport that expires too quickly.

While visa refusals are frustrating, don’t lose heart. You can always reapply, but you must make some improvements to your original application. Submitting the same form will only result in the same negative outcome.