New Delhi: India will allow extension of business visa for up to 15 years and conversion of a regular visa into medical category in case of an emergency for a foreigner.

Home secretary Rajiv Gauba said on Tuesday the number of e-visas issued had seen a tremendous growth during the last four years, from 5.17 lakh in 2015 to 21 lakh till November 30 this year.

“Relaxation has been introduced in grant of internship visa which can be obtained by a student while still pursuing a course in the country without remuneration, extension of business visa beyond five years, conversion of visa into medical category in an emergency for a foreigner who is already in the country and permission for foreigners who are on long duration visas to attend conferences," he said.

Later, another official said the business visa could be extended up to 15 years, for a period of five years at a time.

Addressing the conference, ‘Streamlining of India’s Visa regime’, Gauba said the government’s objective was to create a simple and hassle-free visa regime to facilitate arrival and stay of foreign travellers into the country.

Gauba highlighted various policy initiatives taken to liberalise the visa regime, taking into account the concerns and suggestions made by various ministries, including civil aviation, tourism, health, higher education, and other stakeholders.

Emphasising that India had the potential to become a global hub for education and tourism, Gauba called for a change in the mindset at the field level to make foreigners feel welcome in the country. “A friendly visa regime is also a part of ‘ease of doing business.’"

Citing the recently launched e-FRRO module that provides 27 visa-related services to foreigners, Gauba said it had been very successful and had obviated the need for foreigners to visit Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) Offices for extending their stay, change of visa status etc.

The facility of e-visa now covers 166 countries and foreigners can obtain online visa within 72 hours for travel related to tourism, business, health, medical and conference purposes. Gauba said the number of visas issued through the e-visa system was around 40% of the total number of visas and the figure was expected to cross the 50% mark.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.