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Centre relaxes visa restrictions for foreigners, allows entry on select purposes

In a statement, the MHA said the foreigners can travel to India for purposes of business, healthcare, engineering and technical works on non-scheduled chartered flights.

The MHA said the said foreign nationals would have to obtain a fresh Business visa or Employment visa, as applicable, from the Indian missions abroad to work in India.

Almost three months after it suspended visas granted to foreigners, the central government has finally allowed arrival of foreigners for purposes of business, healthcare, engineering and technical works. It has said they would be allowed to fly into India on non-scheduled chartered flights.

In an order issued on Monday, MHA said, “Foreign businessmen coming to India on a Business visa (other than on B-3 visa for sports) in non-scheduled commercial/ chartered flights would be permitted.”

The ministry said certain other category of foreigners who could avail of this relaxation included “foreign healthcare professionals, health researchers, engineers and technicians for technical work at Indian health sector facilities, including laboratories and factories”.

It added, however, that this is subject to a letter of invitation from a recognised and registered healthcare facility, registered pharmaceutical company or accredited university in India.

For such industrial units which require expertise of foreign specialists, the MHA has said that “foreign engineering, managerial, design or other specialists travelling to India on behalf of foreign business entities located in India” would be allowed. This, it said, includes all manufacturing units, design units, software and IT units as well as financial sector companies such as banking and nonbanking financial sector firms.

“Foreign Technical specialists and engineers travelling for installation, repair and maintenance of foreign-origin machinery and equipment facilities in India, on the invitation of a registered Indian business entity” would also be permitted to fly to India. These could be for equipment installation or for after sales servicing or repair on commercial terms, the MHA said.

These foreign nationals would, however, have to obtain a fresh Business visa or Employment visa, as applicable, from the Indian missions abroad, the MHA has said.

“Foreign nationals holding a valid long term multiple entry Business visa (other than B-3 visa for sports) issued by the Indian Missions/Posts abroad shall have to get the Business 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,” the MHA order said.

The government had suspended all visas on March 11 in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. Since then, it has given many relaxations in terms of flight of stranded Indians abroad, evacuation of foreigners from India, permission to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders to fly to India among others.

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