Govt allows certain categories of foreigners to enter India amid Covid-19 curbs

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Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Published: June 12, 2020 9:35:52 pm

In an office memorandum issued on Friday, the MHA said these category of people would have to “obtain a fresh visa of appropriate category from the Indian Missions/ Posts abroad.” Express Photo by Jasbir Malhi

The Centre on Friday further liberalised its visa restrictions imposed during the lockdown allowing certain category of foreigners and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) to fly to the country.

In fresh orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the government has allowed entry of such foreign minor children whose one of the parents is either an Indian citizen or OCI card holder. For the first time since lockdown, MHA has allowed entry of foreign nationals married to Indian citizens. Also, among those allowed entry are foreign nationals who are single parents and their children hold Indian passport or OCI card. Even foreign students, whose one parent is an Indian citizen or an OCI card holder, are allowed entry into India.

Apart from this, the government has also allowed entry to dependent family members of foreign diplomats and service staff who are accredited to foreign diplomatic Missions, consular offices or accredited international organizations in India. These should be, however, holding official service passports.

In an office memorandum issued on Friday, the MHA said these category of people would have to “obtain a fresh visa of appropriate category from the Indian Missions/ Posts abroad.”

“Foreign nationals holding a valid long term multiple entry visa of appropriate category issued by the Indian Missions/ Posts abroad shall have to get the visa re-validated from the Indian Mission / Post concerned. Such foreign nationals will not be permitted to travel to India on the strength of any electronic visa obtained earlier,” it added.

On May 22, the government had first announced relaxations for OCI cardholders. Through that order, the government had allowed entry to “minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards; OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like death in family; Couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India; University students who are OCI cardholders (not legally minors) but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India.”

Following this, the government had also allowed chartered flights carrying foreigners for specific business purposes to come to India.

The government had suspended visas of all foreigners on March 11 and the last international flight landed in India on March 23 following which Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced nationwide lockdown on March 24.

The PM went on to say that travel restrictions earlier imposed vide an order of May 7 “would not apply to any aircraft, ship, train or any other vehicle deployed for bringing back the above mentioned categories of OCI cardholders who are stranded abroad. All other terms and conditions laid down by MHA on 07.05.2020 would continue to remain in effect.”

The May 7 orders dealt with continuing restrictions on international travel, barring for those Indians being evacuated from a foreign country or for foreigners stranded in India.

Earlier, the MHA had issued orders which said that “the right of multiple entry life-long visa facility for visiting India for any purpose granted to persons registered as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders would continue to be kept in abeyance till the prohibition on international air travel of passengers from/to India is lifted by the Government of India.

“Any foreign national holding an OCI card who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons during this period would have to contact the nearest Indian Mission. Further, in case of persons holding OCI card who are already in India, the OCI card shall remain valid for their stay in India for any length of time.”

International flights continue to suspended at the moment barring those engaged in bringing stranded Indians back.

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