The Union home ministry announced on Thursday the easing of visa and travel restrictions for foreign and Indian nationals wishing to travel to and from India.
The government is rapidly restoring all visa categories, except for electronic (e-visas) and tourist visas, to allow foreign nationals, Indians, Foreign Citizens of India (OCI), and People of Indian Origin (PIO) to enter the country through authorized airports and seaport immigration check posts, the government said. It said that now people can visit India for business, conference, employment, studies, research, and medical purposes.
The ministry said that foreign nationals who wish to visit India for medical treatment will need to apply for a new visa in this category. If approved, one attendant for the person coming for medical treatment will also be issued a visa, it said.
The decision is considered part of a series of measures aimed at bringing in normalcy to spur economic growth after a stringent lockdown to contain the spread of the Coronavirus brought economic activity to a standstill.
"The government has now decided to gradually relax visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals and Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India," the home ministry said.
"Therefore, it has been decided to permit all OCI and PIO cardholders and all other foreign nationals who intend to visit India for any reason except a tourist visa, to enter by air or sea routes via licensed airports, immigration inspection centers and ports, "the ministry said.
"This includes flights that are operated under the Vande Bharat mission, or by air transport bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Civil Aviation Ministry," the Home Ministry said.
The reference was to the "air bubble arrangements" that India has with more than a dozen countries, including Bangladesh, Oman, Kenya, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, France, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. . On October 14, India had made such arrangements with 17 countries.
However, the ministry also warned that all these travelers coming to India will need to adhere to government stipulations on quarantine and Covid-19 testing.
All these travelers must strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding quarantine and other health and covid-19 matters," it said.
The easing of visa norms comes nearly seven months after India imposed the strictest nationwide lockdown globally to curb the transmission of the covid-19 in a country of more than 1.3 billion people.
India had imposed a complete lockdown between 24 March and early June.
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