Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 22
The government on Thursday relaxed visa restrictions to allow all categories of foreign nationals to enter India through air or sea for any purpose except for tourism.
In an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the government said, “It has been decided to permit all OCI and PIO card holders and all other foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose, except on a tourist visa to enter by air or water routes through authorized airports and seaport immigration check posts. ”
It said that the decision was to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals and Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India.
According to the MHA order, the relaxations include flights operated under Vande Bharat Mission, Air Transport Bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. “All such travelers, however, will have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding quarantine and other health / COVID-19 matters,” it added.
The MHA in its order said that under this graded relaxation, “Government of India has also decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas (except electronic visa, tourist visa and medical visa).”
“If the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian Mission / Posts concerned. Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply for a medical visa, including for their medical attendants, ”the order said.
With these relaxations, now foreign nationals will be allowed to come to India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes and a few others.
In view of the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government had taken a series of steps and had decided in February this year to curtail the inward and outward movement of international passengers.