India on Wednesday took the unprecedented decision to suspend all visas, barring select categories, till April 15, effectively closing its borders for a month. (Express photo: Pradip Das)
On Wednesday, March 17, the government issued new FAQs on visa restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These concern Indian nationals wanting to return to India or go abroad, foreigners who are in India or who want to come to India, OCI Card holders, as well as of diplomats.
A day later on Thursday, the government announced that no international commercial passenger aircraft would be allowed to land in the country from March 22 for a week.
Are there restrictions on Indian nationals coming from/transiting through certain countries?
Yes. According to the Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs, effective 12 noon GMT on March 18 at the port of departure, no airline will bring any passenger from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.
Effective 3 pm IST on March 17 at the port of departure, no airline will bring any passenger from Philippines, Malaysia and Afghanistan.
No transit can take place through these countries as no aircraft will board passengers for India in the said countries.
What happens upon arrival in India?
All passengers coming from/transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait after 12 noon GMT on March 18 (port of departure) will be quarantined for 14 days. Those who have visited China, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Iran, Italy, Spain, France and Germany on or after February 15, too will be quarantined.
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Indians transiting through China, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Iran, Italy, Spain, France and Germany will be quarantined on arrival.
With effect from 12 noon GMT on March 18 (port of departure), Indians transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait will also be quarantined on arrival in India.
Is a COVID-19 negative certificate mandatory for Indian nationals?
It will be required only for those who are coming from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) or Italy. Passengers from Italy will not be allowed effective 12 noon on March 18 (port of departure).
Are Indian nationals allowed to go abroad?
Indians have been strongly advised to avoid non-essential travel to COVID-19 affected countries. Passengers shall not be allowed to enter India or shall be quarantined depending on the country they are returning/transiting from (see previous answers).
Can foreigners who are currently in India extend their visas before expiry? Can they go out of India and return?
Yes. Foreigners currently in India should approach their jurisdictional Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO)/FROs through e-FRRO.
Foreigners can go out of India, but they can return only after being issued a fresh visa by an Indian Mission/Post.
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What is the list of ‘restricted countries’ from which foreigners are not allowed to come to India?
Effective 12 noon GMT on March 18 (port of departure), the list of restricted countries includes Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.
Effective 3 pm ST on March 17, passengers coming from the Philippines, Malaysia and Afghanistan are also restricted.
Only those with employment and project visas are allowed to enter. Those foreigners who have RC/RP/Stay Visa w.r.t. employment/ project visas are allowed. Other categories of visas, including the visa-free travel facility granted to OCI Card holders also stands suspended till April 15.
Dependents of those in the exempted visa category are not allowed to enter.
Infants/children who hold foreign passports and whose parents are Indian nationals need to get a fresh visa from Indian Mission/Post to be allowed.
Are Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives passport holders allowed?
Nepal and Bhutan nationals are allowed. Maldives nationals require a visa.
Are OCI Card holders allowed to come to India?
No. OCI Card holders are required to obtain a fresh Indian visa from Mission/Post to be allowed into India. Those from restricted countries are not allowed (see previous answer for list).
Infants/children who hold foreign passports with OCI cards but whose parents are Indians are also required to get a fresh visa from Indian Mission/Post.
After obtaining a fresh visa, OCI Card holders coming from/having visited the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Italy require COVID-19 Negative Certificates.
What about diplomats, and Official, UN/international organization passports holders?
Diplomats, and Official, UN/International Organization passports holders are allowed to enter India, even from restricted countries. The International Organizations allowed include UN Bodies and other recognized organizations.
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Those arriving from Italy or the Republic of Korea (South Korea) are required to carry COVID-19 Negative Certificates.
Their dependents on normal passports, however, are not allowed to enter.