The Centre Friday further eased visa restrictions imposed during the lockdown, allowing all Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and certain categories of foreigners to fly in from countries with which India has “air bubble” arrangement.
An air bubble agreement allows free movement of commercial flights between two nations. India has such an arrangement with the US, the UK, Germany and France. The entry and exit of passengers would, however, be subject to Covid-19 containment rules of that country. Countries such as France are now allowing entry of Indians, sources said.
Referring to the arrangement, the Ministry of Home Affairs said: “…all OCI card holders holding passports of such countries are permitted to enter India.”
The order also allows 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”.
The Home Ministery also lifted restrictions for air bubble countries on “movement of cargo or goods and supplies in any vehicle, aircraft, ship, train etc along with their crew, sailor, driver, helper, cleaner etc”.
Also allowed are foreigners from such countries who arrive for either business or medical reasons, or fall under categories where they have some Indian connection—as defined in the June 22 order. This order had allowed the entry of foreign minors and students having at least one parent who is either an Indian citizen or an OCI cardholder, foreign nationals married to Indian citizens, and foreigners who are single parents with Indian passport- or OCI card-holding children.
Apart from this, the government had also allowed entry to dependent family members of foreign diplomats and service staff who are accredited to foreign diplomatic missions, consular offices or accredited International Organizations in India. However, they were required to hold official service passports.
On May 22, the government had first announced relaxations for OCI cardholders.The government had suspended visas of all foreigners on March 11.
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