The government has relaxed restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals to India and has permitted foreign journalists and their dependents who have valid visas to enter the country. This is the latest in a series of relaxations that India has made to visa restrictions imposed during the lockdown.
An order by issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday said, “In addition to the categories of foreign nationals who are permitted to enter India vide this ministry’s O.M. of even number dated 30th June, 2020, it has been decided to permit foreign nationals holding Journalist (J-1) visa and their dependents holding J-1X visa to enter India. If they have J-1 or J-1X visas, which have been suspended, such visas shall stand restored with immediate effect… However, if the validity of such visas has expired, they may obtain a fresh J-1 or J-1X visa, as the case may be from the Indian Missions/Posts concerned.”
The order also says that existing restrictions through immigration check posts will not apply to foreign journalists returning to the country. “However, in respect of quarantine and all other health/COVID-19 related matters , guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will be adhered to,” the order stated.
Last week, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had tweeted that it was brought to his notice through a foreign resident journalist that India was not allowing “re-entry privileges for foreign journalist (whose) visas are suspended if they leave India”.
“Many Delhi based foreign journalists are stranded overseas. Reflects poorly on our democracy and respect for free press,” he had tweeted. On August 7, India had allowed all OCI cardholders to fly to India from countries with which India has an “air bubble arrangement” — the US, UK, Germany and France. The August 7 order also allowed Indian nationals “holding any type of valid visa of such countries” to travel to that country “provided there is no travel restriction for entry of Indian nationals in that country”.