The government on Friday further liberalised the visa restrictions imposed during the lockdown by allowing the entry of certain categories of foreigners and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) into the country.
The order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has allowed the entry of foreign minor children with at least one parent who is an Indian citizen or an OCI card holder. The order also allows the entry of foreigners married to Indian citizens and single foreign parents whose children hold an Indian passport or an OCI card.
Even foreign students with at least one parent who is an Indian citizen or an OCI card holder are allowed entry into India.
Apart from this, the government has also allowed the entry of dependent family members of foreign diplomats and service staff who are accredited to foreign diplomatic missions, consular offices or accredited international organizations in India. They, however, should hold official service passports.
In an office memorandum issued on Friday, the MHA said these categories of people would have to “obtain a fresh visa of appropriate category from the Indian Missions/ Posts abroad”.
“Foreign nationals holding a valid long-term multiple-entry visa of appropriate category issued by the Indian Missions/ Posts abroad shall have to get the 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,” it added.
The government had suspended visas of all foreigners on March 11 and the last international flight landed in India on March 23, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the nationwide lockdown the following day.
On May 22, the government had first announced relaxations for OCI cardholders. Through that order, the government had allowed entry to “minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards; OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like death in family; couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India; university students who are OCI cardholders (not legally minors) but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India”.
Following this, the government had also allowed chartered flights carrying foreigners for specific business purposes to come to India.
Friday’s memorandum went on to say that travel restrictions imposed earlier vide a May 7 order “would not apply to any aircraft, ship, train or any other vehicle deployed for bringing back the above mentioned categories of OCI cardholders who are stranded abroad. All other terms and conditions laid down by MHA on 07.05.2020 would continue to remain in effect”.
International flights continue to be suspended in India, barring those engaged in bringing stranded Indians back.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines