Children born abroad, spouses of Indian nationals, students may return.
As India slowly starts opening up after two months of the world’s biggest lockdown to contain coronavirus pandemic, it is relaxing visa and travel restrictions on Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders stranded abroad.
“Relaxing visa and travel restrictions imposed in wake of covid-19, certain categories of OCI cardholders stranded abroad have been permitted to come to India,” Indian Home Ministry spokesperson tweeted Friday.
Those now eligible to return to India include minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards and OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies, such as a death in the family, according to a notification issued by the ministry.
Couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national, and they have a permanent residence in India and University students who are OCI cardholders (but are not minors) and whose parents are Indian citizens living in India are also now allowed to come back.
Travel restrictions imposed on May 7 would not apply to any aircraft, ship, train or any other vehicle deployed for bringing back the above-mentioned categories of OCI cardholders who are stranded abroad, it said.
The decision comes in the wake of several complaints by Indians stranded abroad.
India had by an order issued on May 5 kept in abeyance multiple-entry, life-long visa facility given to OCI card holders till international travel remains suspended.
As of March 2019, over 3.25 million foreign citizens of Indian origin were registered as OCIs with a right to live and work in India indefinitely since 2005.
Over 23,000 Indians stranded abroad due to suspension of international travel since mid March have been repatriated from dozens of countries under India’s largest ever evacuation exercise named “Vande Bharat Mission,” which has now been extended to June 13 to cover about 50 countries.
As in the first phase, India’s national carrier Air India is running seven more flights to bring back stranded Indian nationals from the US in the second phase of the mission.