Govt. relaxes visa restrictions

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday further relaxed visa restrictions enabling foreigners to come to India for various purposes, such as business, conference, employment, education, research and medical reasons. Except electronic tourist visa on arrival, which includes a short-term medical visa, all visa restrictions have been lifted.

The MHA, however, clarified that fresh applications will be required for medical visa. “The government has now 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. Therefore, it has been decided to permit all Overseas Citizens of India and Persons of Indian Origin 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 checkposts,” the MHA said in a 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.”

The MHA said, “Under this graded relaxation, the government has decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas (except electronic visa, tourist visa and medical visa).” It added, “If the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian missions and posts concerned.”

“Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply for a Medical Visa including for their medical attendants,” the MHA said.

All such travellers should, however, strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on quarantine and other health/COVID-19 matters, the statement said.

The travel restriction, prohibiting international travel to and from 107 immigration check-posts was issued on March 23, a day before the first phase of the 21-day-countrywide COVID-19 lockdown.

The visa restrictions have been gradually relaxed, and on August 18, the MHA allowed foreign journalists and their dependants to enter India.

On August 7, it allowed foreign nationals from the U.S., the U.K., Germany and France to travel to India on “business, medical and employment” visas under the air bubble scheme.

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