India asks China to issue visas, resume travel for work, studies
India called on China on Thursday to issue visas to Indian nationals who meet all requirements laid down by Beijing for travel, including getting vaccinated with Chinese-made jabs, so that they could return to their studies or jobs.
The government is also taking steps to protect the interests of Indian nationals who work or study abroad but have been stuck in the country because of Covid-19-related travel restrictions, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly news briefing. The problems faced by these nationals are being taken up with the concerned governments, he said.
In the case of China, Bagchi pointed out that Indian nationals have been unable to travel back to resume their work or studies since November last year, even though Chinese citizens are able to travel to India despite the absence of direct connectivity.
“However, for Indian nationals, travel to China has not been possible since last November as the Chinese side had suspended existing visas. In March this year, the Chinese embassy issued a notification about facilitating visas for those taking Chinese-made vaccines,” Bagchi said.
“It is understood that several Indian nationals have applied for Chinese visas after getting vaccinated in that manner but are yet to be issued visas. Since these Indian nationals have apparently met the requirements laid down by the Chinese side, we hope the Chinese embassy would be able to issue them visas soon,” he said.
Indian authorities have been in touch with Chinese counterparts to seek “early resumption of travel” by Indian citizens to China, especially for those who work or study there, he added.
“While we recognise the need to ensure safety and strictly follow Covid-related protocols, essential two-way travel should be facilitated, especially keeping in view the fact that Chinese nationals are able to travel to India,” Bagchi said.
According to official data, China is home to more than 55,000 Indian nationals, including more than 20,000 students. Many students and professionals returned to India following the Covid-19 outbreak and have been unable to go back to China.
In the case of other countries too, the government is aware of challenges faced by Indian students who are unable to return to pursue their studies. The external affairs ministry, in line with the government’s priorities, has been “working actively to protect the interests of Indians residing abroad, be it for education, employment or other reasons”, he added.
“We have been taking this issue up with the concerned governments on priority. We have also requested students facing difficulties to contact the external affairs ministry,” he said, referring to a recent initiative launched to gather details of such students from across the country.
Responding to a separate question about problems faced by Indians studying or working abroad who have been vaccinated with the Covaxin jab that is yet to be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), Bagchi said: “We are aware that Bharat Biotech has sought WHO emergency use listing for Covaxin. We hope this process of getting this approval is completed at an early date.”