The Centre on Thursday restored all existing visas with immediate effect except tourist visas, electronic visas and medical visas, eight months after their suspension following a nationwide lockdown to check the spread of the coronavirus.
In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs also permitted all Overseas Citizens of India, Persons of Indian Origin card-holders, and other foreigners who wish to visit the country India for any purpose – except on a tourist visa – through authorised seaport and airport immigration check posts. “This includes 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,” the statement said.
The ministry said if anyone has an expired visa, they can obtain new ones from Indian missions. Further, a foreigner who wants to visit India for medical treatment can apply for a medical visa. “Therefore, this decision will enable foreign nationals to come to India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes etc,” it said.
The ministry added that all those visiting India will have to strictly comply with coronavirus-related guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
India instituted a lockdown in the end of March, which also included grounding both domestic and international flights. The Centre had allowed domestic flight services to resume on May 25, but at only one-third capacity. The cap was later increased to 45% and then to 60%.
The suspension of international flights to and from the country had remained. However, since June, the government has allowed limited operations of Air India flights under the “Vande Bharat” mission for certain categories Overseas Citizenship of India, Persons of Indian Origin card-holders and other Indians who were stuck abroad due to the pandemic.