Hindustantimes wants to start sending you push notifications. Click allow to subscribe

India restores tourist visas 2 years after suspension due to Covid-19

Updated on Mar 16, 2022 04:41 PM IST

The valid e-tourist visas issued for five years stand restored to nationals of 156 countries with immediate effect. The regular paper tourist visa, which has a validity of five years and is issued to nationals of all the countries, has also been restored.

The Centre has decided to restore all categories of tourist visas for foreign nationals keeping in view the improvement in Covid-19 situation in the country. (File/PTI)

NEW DELHI: Almost two years after international travel was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre has decided to restore all categories of tourist visas for foreign nationals.

An order issued by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Tuesday said it has considered the need for further relaxation of visa and travel restrictions keeping in view the improvement in Covid-19 situation in India.

The ministry said that the valid e-tourist visas issued for five years shall stand restored to nationals of 156 countries with immediate effect. Fresh five-year e-tourist visas to the citizens of these 156 countries will also be issued.

The regular paper tourist visa, which has a validity of five years and is issued to nationals of all the countries, has also been restored. Similarly, long duration 10 year regular tourist visa to the citizens of the United States and Japan has also been restored and new ones will be issued with immediate effect, the ministry said.

All these visas were suspended in March 2020, when regular international flights were stopped.

Earlier in October 2020, a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions was done for foreign and Indian nationals, who wanted to come to India for business, conferences, employment, studies and research purposes except the tourist visas.

The tourist visas were opened for the first time in 18 months from November 15 last year but that too only for travel in chartered flights.

Several states, including Goa as well as stakeholders in the tourism sector had written to MHA seeking to allow tourists to enter India once again through regular international flights as the tourism sector was getting affected.

The decision to allow all tourists has been taken after discussion with the ministries of civil aviation, tourism, health, external affairs and the state governments as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country is below 3,000 cases per day.

Tuesday’s order, which has been shared with the Indian embassies, said the foreign nationals on tourist/e-tourist visas may enter India only through designated sea immigration check posts (ICPs) or airports by flights, including those under Vande Bharat mission or ‘air bubble’ or by any other flights.

The government has already decided to allow regular international flight operations from March 27. Scheduled international flight services have remained suspended in India since March 23 , 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The order said in no case, the foreign nationals will be allowed to enter the country through land border or riverine routes on tourist visas. A separate order will be issued for the opening of land borders soon.

The latest order will also not apply to Afghan nationals, who, the ministry said, will continue to be governed separately through e-Emergency X-Misc visa. This new category of visa for Afghan citizens was introduced in August last year as thousands of Afghans were looking to flee the country and seek refuge in other countries including India following Taliban’s takeover of the country on August 15.

Broadly, there are about 21 categories of visas given by India with various sub-categories including tourist visa, medical visa, business visa, conference visa, student and research visa, missionary visa, film visa, journalist visa, sports visa, intern visa etc.

“All categories of visas are now allowed to travel to India,” said a MHA official, requesting anonymity.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
OPEN APP