Indian Government Relaxes Visa, Travel Restrictions Amid COVID-19

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The Indian government on Thursday relaxed its visa restrictions to allow all categories of foreign nationals to enter India through air or sea for any purpose except for tourism.

An official statement said that the Federal Government has decided to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals and Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India.

“It has been decided to permit all Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) and Person of India Origin (PIO) cardholders 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 authorized airports and seaport immigration check posts,’’ said the statement.

“This includes flights operated under Vande Bharat Mission, Air Transport Bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation,’’ it added.

The Vande Bharat Mission started to bring back stranded Indians from foreign destinations after suspension of regular international flights amid COVID-19 outbreak.

However, all such travellers will have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of India’s Health Ministry regarding quarantine and other health/COVID-19 matters, said the statement issued by the home (internal security) ministry.

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Under this graded relaxation, the government has also decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas (except electronic visa, Tourist Visa and Medical Visa).

If the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian Mission/Posts concerned.

Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply for a Medical Visa including for their medical attendants.

Therefore, this decision will enable foreign nationals to come to India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes etc.

In view of the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has taken a series of steps and decided in February this year to curtail the inward and outward movement of international passengers.

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