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Restrictions in Traveling to and from India Relaxed, Ban on Tourist Visas Continue

NEW DELHI, Oct 22: With the Corona pandemic situation in India showing steady improvement in the last few days, the union home ministry has decided to further relax restrictions on the visit to the country by foreigners, except the tourists, or the Indian nationals living abroad.

“It has been decided to permit all Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (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 authorized airports and seaport immigration check posts,” an order issued by the MHA on Thursday said.

It pointed out that travel restrictions from and to India were imposed in February due to the COVID-19 situation world-wide but now the “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 said among the travel relaxations granted included 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. The order, however, was categorical that “all such travelers will, however have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding quarantine and other health/COVID-19 matters.”

Under this graded relaxation, the centre 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.” the order said.

The government had earlier in June allowed the entry of foreign minor children of one parent being an Indian citizen or an OCI card holder as well as to foreigners married to an Indian citizen and single foreign parents whose children hold an Indian passport or an OCI card.

(Manas Dasgupta)