Government suspends all visas, bars travel by OCI card holders

NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday suspended all existing visas granted to foreign nationals, barring a few categories, till international air travel to and from India remains shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an order said.

In a separate order, the Union Home Ministry also said it has extended on ‘gratis’ basis the visas of foreigners stranded in India due the lockdown. The extension will be for a period of 30 days beyond opening of international travel in the country.

The ministry also said it has kept in abeyance multiple-entry life-long visas given to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders till international travel remains suspended.

However, the Overseas Citizens of India card holders who are already in India can stay in the country for “any length of time”, it said.

All existing visas granted to foreigners — except those belonging to diplomatic, official, UN international organisations, employment and project categories — shall remain suspended till prohibition on international air travel of passengers from and to India is lifted by the government, the order said.

In the other order, the Home Ministry said regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation of foreign nationals whose visas have expired post-midnight February 1 or would expire during the ban on international air travel from India would be extended on ‘GRATIS’ basis just on submission of an online application.

Such extensions would be for a period up to 30 days from the date of lifting of prohibition on international air travel without any overstay penalty, it said.

Exit to such foreign nationals, if so requested by them, will also be granted on the same lines, it said.

In its third order, the Home Ministry said the right of multiple-entry on lifelong visa for OCI card-holders will continue to be kept in abeyance till the prohibition on international air travel to and from India.

Any foreign national holding an OCI card who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons during the period may contact the nearest Indian mission, it said.

In case of persons holding OCI card who are already in India, the OCI card will remain valid for their stay in India for any length of time, it said.

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