The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday announced that Overseas Citizen of India card holders from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France will be allowed to visit the country. Indian citizens will also be allowed to travel to these countries on any kind of visa, the Centre said.

Other foreigners from these countries have also been allowed to avail of the Indian visa facility for business, medical and employment purposes.

“Ministry of Home Affairs has permitted OCI cardholders to enter India who belong to countries with which ‘air bubble’ arrangements have been finalised by Ministry of Civil Aviation,” a ministry spokesperson tweeted.

A travel bubble or a bilateral air bubble is a travel corridor between two countries that wish to reopen their borders and re-establish connections amid the pandemic. So far, India has bilateral air travel arrangements with the US, UK, Germany and France.

Indian missions of these countries will grant appropriate visa, provided papers of the applicants are in order and there is no adverse input about them, the home ministry said, according to PTI. It has also been decided that the existing restrictions on incoming passenger traffic into India through the immigration check posts will not apply to such travellers.

Any Indian holding any type of valid visa of such countries may be permitted to travel to the country concerned, provided there is no travel restriction on the entry of Indian citizens at the destination country, it added. The ministry said it will be the duty of the airlines concerned to ensure no such restrictions were in place before issuing tickets and boarding pass to the Indian passenger.

The home ministry said it has further considered the need for relaxation in visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreigners who want to travel to India as well as for Indians intending to visit other countries under the “air bubble” scheme.

International travel continues to remain banned in the third phase of “Unlock 3”, the government’s plan to gradually ease restrictions put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus. The only flights operating internationally are those meant to bring back stranded Indian citizens.

However, the Centre has been easing visa restrictions, permitting certain categories of foreigners, including Overseas Citizen of India cardholders, to enter the country in a calibrated manner.

On June 12, the government allowed entry to foreigners who are single parents of minors with Indian passports or OCI cards, students who are foreigners but one of their parents is an Indian citizen, dependent family members of foreign diplomats and service staff accredited to foreign diplomatic missions, consular offices or accredited international organisations in India.

On May 22, the Centre had allowed four categories of OCI cardholders to return to India. These categories included minor children born to Indians abroad and holding OCI cards, OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies such as deaths, couples, of whom one is an OCI cardholder and the other an Indian citizen and they have permanent residence in India and university students who are OCI cardholders, have attained adulthood and whose parents are Indian citizens living in India.

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