US permanent residents, OCI card holders can leave India at own cost.
As of March 2019, over 3.25 million foreign citizens of Indian origin were registered as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) with a right to live and work in India indefinitely since 2005. But no longer. India has put a freeze on that right due to coronavirus pandemic.
Even as India launches a massive exercise to bring back tens of thousands of Indians stranded abroad due to coronavirus crisis, it has barred the entry of all foreigners, including OCI card holders.
Not only does India’s ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to bring back about 15,000 Indians from the US and a dozen other countries excludes (OCI) card holders, but they would also be required to get visas to visit their motherland like other foreigners.
India has kept in abeyance multiple-entry, life-long visa facility given to OCI card holders till international travel remains suspended, Indian Ministry of Home Affairs said in an order issued Tuesday.
However, OCI card holders who are already in India can stay in the country for any length of time. And those who wish to travel to India on their own “for compelling reasons” would have to get visas.
“Any foreign national holding an OCI card who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons during this period would have to contact the nearest Indian Mission,” it said.
OCI and green card holders and other foreigners, however, would be allowed to travel out of India on their own cost if they hold a visa of at least one year duration of a foreign country and that country allows them entry.
In case of medical emergency or death in the family, Indian nationals holding six month visa can also be allowed to travel, the Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) issued by the Indian Home Ministry said.
READ: India to bring stranded citizens home from May 7 (May 4, 2020)
Before the tickets of such persons are confirmed, the SOP clarified the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) will ensure that the destination country allows them entry.
“The conditions, if any, imposed by the destination country, will have to be fulfilled by the persons intending to travel,” the SOP said.
“The travel from India shall be on the non scheduled commercial flights that are being arranged by MoCA for bringing back stranded Indian nationals from abroad and the cost of travel, as specified by MoCA, will be borne by such travelers.”
Only asymptomatic travelers would be allowed to board the flight and health protocol as issued by MoCA will be strictly followed during the flight, it said.
This would include wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene to be observed by airline staff, crew and all passengers.
An updated travel advisory issued by the Indian Embassy in Washington said all existing visas issued to nationals of any country who have not yet entered India, will remain suspended till prohibition on international air travel from/to India is lifted by the Indian government.
Exceptions include visa issued to diplomats, official passport holders, those in UN / international organizations, and those on employment and project visas.
Regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation of all foreign nationals whose visas have expired or would be expiring between February 1 and lifting of ban on international air travel from India, would be extended on Gratis basis on submission of online application to Foreigners Registration Offices.
Such extensions would be granted for a period up to 30 days from the date of lifting of prohibition on international air travel of passengers from India without levy of overstay penalty.
Exit to such foreign nationals, if so, requested by them, will also be granted on the same lines, the advisory said.
Earlier, the government had granted consular services on gratis basis to foreign nationals on March 17 till May 3.