India extends ban on visas to foreigners

Photo: WAM

The Indian government Tuesday indefinitely extended the suspension of most visas granted to foreigners.

Only those visas belonging to diplomatic, official, UN and other international organizations, employment and project categories will be honoured at points of entry into India, according to an order issued by Pratap Singh Rawat, Under Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs here.

India had announced such suspension on April 17, but that order expired yesterday. The new prohibition on arrival of foreigners through the normal route has no specific date unlike the earlier order.

Ordinary visas "will remain suspended till prohibition on international air travel of passengers from and to India is lifted by the government of India," according to the new order. The suspension also applies to the category of Overseas Citizens of India, people of Indian origin who do not need visas to travel to India.

Meanwhile, the Ministry issued detailed four-page Standard Operating Protocols, SOP, for Indians returning to India beginning this week from the Gulf and elsewhere in the world. It details how they can return to India, the procedures during repatriation flights and what awaits them upon landing at their destinations.

The SOPs also apply to persons stranded in India who are desirous to travel abroad for urgent reasons. Their visas will be extended free of charge for 30 days beyond resumption of international flights out of India.

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