Many countries are surprisingly tolerant and extremely forgiving when it comes to overstays. India is not one such country.
Most travelers arrive in India on a 60 day visa, which typically cannot be extended. The most common cause of overstays in India is the unusual fact that visas here start from the time of application, not entry – making overstays not all that unusual.
First Steps if You Think Your Might Overstay Your India Tourist Visa
Unfortunately though, an overstay is considered a criminal offense.
Unlike countries like the UK, there’s no grace period; and unlike Schengen, there’s no flexible areas where officials might turn a blind eye to the innocent, accidental overstay.
Instead, Indian officials are notorious for making examples of travelers, even those who overstay for extremely short periods of time.
On top of this, airline and immigration staff are required by law to report overstays, so don’t expect much mercy if you try to quietly sneak out of the country.
Once you overstay a visa in India, you have very few options. A one day overstay is no different to one month, meaning you’ll be treated like an illegal immigrant from the first hour of your overstay.
If you do try to leave, expect officials to physically remove your luggage from the plain, and detain you. Hence, you’re better off just heading to a police station and turning yourself in.
Fines for Overstaying an India Tourist Visa
For most overstayers, the best case scenario is a US$30 fine plus the cost of a visa extension, followed by a mountain of paperwork and long periods of waiting around at a police station, before being cut loose.
If you’re unlucky, you might be hit with a travel ban. In rare, extreme cases, prison time isn’t totally unheard of.
While India is on the stricter end of the visa spectrum, there are a few ways to avoid the bureaucratic nightmare of an overstay.
The first is to try applying for an extension before your visa expires through the Foreign Regional Registration Office.
Extensions of 15 days aren’t too hard to get on grounds of illness or injury .
All you’ll need is a medical certificate (you can buy fake reports pretty much anywhere) , and you’re good to go.
If all else fails, the only other option is bribery and corruption. However, in most major Indian airports this is extremely risky, and can land you in a world of trouble.
Unless you really know what you’re doing, this option is a disastrously bad idea.
Even if you somehow manage to successfully bribe your way through departure, expect to pay out far more than you would for simply coughing up that $30 fine.
Having said that, legend has it the officials at the land crossings with Nepal are a little more open to turning a blind eye to overstayers on their way out … assuming you’re willing to pay.