In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, here’s all the information you need to know regarding visas for travellers especially if your trip is planned in the coming few weeks. By Team T+L
Updated as of March 19
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In view of the evolving situation of coronavirus (COVID 19), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has updated the visa policies to control the spread of the virus. While it’s crucial now more than ever to #staysafe and maintain #socialdistancing, but if you have to travel under such circumstances, here’s all the information you need to be armed with to make your travel hassle-free in the weeks to come.
For Indians Travelling Abroad
As per a statement by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, India has not “imposed a ban” on international travel, but are taking stringent measures to control the spread of the virus.
In light of the current global health crisis around the Coronavirus, following are the countries that have revised their visa policies for Indians travelling there.
USA: Following the declaration of a national emergency in USA, the US Embassy and Consulates in India have cancelled all visa appointments from March 16.
Australia: Starting March 15, Australia has imposed a 14-day self isolation on international travellers. A complete ban on cruise ships from other countries has also been announced for 30 days at all of its ports.
Sri Lanka: The Sri Lankan government has suspended visa-on-arrival for all tourists, irrespective of country.
Thailand: Thailand has cancelled visa-on-arrival for 18 countries, including India.
Nepal: The country has temporarily stopped issuing on-arrival tourist visas to all countries.
Seychelles: The country has imposed a similar ban wherein nobody excepting returning residents will be allowed to travel between Seychelles and other countries.
Kuwait: Kuwait has announced that flights to India would be cancelled for a week starting March 7, and has barred Indians from entering the nation for the time being until the crisis is averted.
Qatar: This Middle Eastern nation has currently banned tourists from 14 countries, including India, from entering their soil. In addition, Qatar has also halted stopovers in Doha.
Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has cancelled all tourist visas for Indians.
United Arab Emirates: Effective March 17, the Emirates has suspended issuance of all entry visas, except for holders of diplomatic passports. This does not apply to persons who have got visas before the effective date.
Micronesia & Solomon Islands: All tourist visas stand suspended in these regions. However, you can still visit Guam, Hawaii or another country with no confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a period of minimum 14 days before entering Micronesia.
As of March 12, 2020, China and Italy are on a complete lock down, in effect barring any cross border movement for citizens and tourists, both. Starting midnight on March 19, Hong Kong will quarantine all people from entering the city in an attempt to curb the explosion of coronavirus cases.
As per a Ministry of Health and welfare advisory, Indian nationals are strongly advised to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain and Germany. Tourists, including Indian nationals, returning from these countries or having visited these countries after February 15, will also be quarantined for two weeks. Those who have visited Italy or Korea, in particular, will need to furbish a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the designated laboratories authorised by the health authorities of these countries. Incoming passengers from any other country have been advised to self-monitor their health. Starting March 18, incoming travellers from the European Union (EU), Turkey and United Kingdom will be banned. This comes following a proposal by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to temporarily ban travels to the EU. Additionally, the government has restricted travel of Indian passport holders with immediate effect i.e. March 18. March 22 onwards, no international flights will be allowed to land on Indian soil for a week. All concessional railways and civil aviation tickets — barring students, patients, and divyang categories — have also been cancelled.
Validity of International Tourists Holding Indian Visas
Currently, all existing visas issued to nationals of other countries stand suspended till April 15, 2020, with effect from March 13, 2020 1200 GMT. Diplomats, Officials, United Nations or Internationals Organisations, Employment, and project visas are exempted from this. Additionally, visas of foreigners already in the country remain valid. Should they wish to extend their visa, or convert it, they can visit the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreign Registration Office (FRO). Foreign nationals intending to travel to India for compelling reasons may contact the nearest Indian Mission for fresh visas.
All incoming tourists – Indians included – who have visited China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain, Germany on or before February 15, 2020 will be quarantined for two weeks. International borders will also be restricted to designated Immigration Checkposts wherein medical screenings will be underway.
For OCI Card holders
Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders will be kept in abeyance till April 15, 2020. This, too, will come in effect from March 13, 2020 1200 GMT at the port of departure of any foreigner for an onward journey to India.
For Further Queries
The government has launched a helpline and an email ID to address queries regarding visa and travel restrictions, as well as to facilitate foreigners in India wishing to avail consular services amid the coronavirus breakout. These services, issued by the Bureau of Immigration, will be available round the clock. The phone number for the same is 011-24300666 , and the email id is [email protected]