The government on Thursday decided to restore with immediate effect the validity of all existing visas, except electronic, tourist and medical category visas, almost eight months after their suspension following the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent imposition of a nationwide lockdown.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also granted permission to all Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card holders and all other foreign nationals to visit India for any purpose, except for tourism. When the Covid-19 virus hit India, the government had taken a series of steps to curtail the inward and outward movement of international passengers since February, 2020.
The ministry has now said in a statement that the government has decided to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions for foreign as well as Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India. Under this graded relaxation, the government has decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas, except electronic visa, tourist visa and medical visa, the statement said.
If the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian mission or post concerned the ministry statement added. Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply afresh for a medical visa, including for their medical attendants.
The government’s decision will now enable foreign nationals to visit India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes etc. The government has also decided to permit all OCI and PIO card holders and all other foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose, except on a tourist visa, to enter by air or water routes through authorised airports and seaport immigration check posts. This includes flights operated under the 'Vande Bharat' mission, air transport bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. All such travellers will, however, have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding quarantine and other Covid-19 related matters.
While the restrictions on visas were imposed following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in February, commercial flight operations were suspended when the nationwide lockdown came into effect on March 25.
However, the government has been allowing limited operations of Air India flights under the “Vande Bharat” mission for certain categories of OCI and PIO card holders and those Indians who were stuck abroad due to the Covid-19 outbreak since June.