Flag of India
Flag of India

India on Thursday allowed the entry of international visitors by relaxing the visa restrictions, imposed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for all foreigners except tourists.

In a statement, the Indian home ministry said, "The government has now decided to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals and Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India. Therefore, it has been decided to permit all Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card holders and all other foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose, except on a tourist visa."

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The ministry said that foreign visitors can enter India only through authorised airports and seaport immigration check posts. "All such travelers will, however, have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the health and family welfare ministry regarding quarantine and other health/COVID-19 matters,” the statement said.

According to COVID protocols, all passengers will need to have downloaded a government contact-tracing app, and they will also be subject to thermal screening. Also, flyers will also need to wear masks and gloves while inside airports.

The government has also decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas, except electronic tourist and medical visas, the ministry said.

“If the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian mission or post concerned. Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply afresh for a medical visa, including for their medical attendants. Therefore, this decision will enable foreign nationals to come to India for various purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies, research, medical purposes."

The Indian government had suspended all visas on 11 March and put curbs on domestic and international flights later that month. Though it allowed domestic flights from May, there were still restrictions on international flights.

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