Despite being a former immigration officer, and a lawyer concentrating in immigration, I actually went to
India and my visa expired while I was there. I took a series of small miracles for me to leave (I'll leave that to another post, but it felt like an episode of 'Amazing Race'). To avoid such visa problems and encounters with Indian bureaucracy, and if you travel to India relatively frequently, and you are a 'person of Indian origin' you may wish to obtain a PIO card which allows you visa free travel to India and is valid for 15 years.
“Persons of Indian Origin” has been defined as someone residing outside of
India and holding a non-Indian passport and one of the following:
he/she or either of his/her parents or grand parents or great grand parents was born in and permanently resident in
he/she is a spouse of a citizen of
or a person of Indian origin covered under (i) or (ii) above.
The holder would also enjoy the following benefits:
(i) Parity with NRI’s in respect of facilities available to the latter in economic, financial, educational fields, etc. including:
(a) Acquisition, holding, transfer and disposal of immovable properties in
except of agricultural/plantation properties;
(b) admission of children in educational institutions in India under the general category quota for NRIs - including medical / engineering college, IITs, IIMs etc.
(c) various housing schemes of Life Insurance Corporation of India, State Governments and other Government agencies;
(iv) All future benefits that would be extended to NRIs would also be available to the PIO Card holders;
The Indian Government did previously issue PIO Cards. These earlier cards were issued earlier for US $ 1000. They will continue to remain valid and no refund shall be admissible. However, the validity of such cards shall be extended by 10 more years without charging any fee. Check out the Indian government's site here.