NEW DELHI: India on Friday announced tha visas of foreigners stranded due to Covid-induced non-availability of international flights will be deemed valid till August 31, 2021. The Union home ministry (MHA) in a statement said that a number of foreign nationals who came to India prior to March 2020 on valid Indian visas had got stranded here because of “non-availability of normal commercial flights … since March 2020”.
MHA had on June 29, 2020, issued an order that Indian visa or stay stipulation period of such foreign nationals expiring post June 30, 2020, shall be deemed to be valid until 30 more days from the date of resumption of normal international flight operations.
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This was done due to difficulties being faced by foreigners in getting their visas extended during last year’s lockdown. However, such foreign nationals have been applying for extension of their visas or stay stipulation period on a monthly basis.
“The matter has now been reconsidered by the MHA in the light of non-resumption of normal commercial flight operations, and it has accordingly been decided that the Indian visa or stay stipulation period of such foreign nationals stranded in India will be considered as deemed to be valid till August 31, 2021, on gratis basis without levy of any overstay penalty. These foreign nationals will not be required to submit any application to the FRRO/FRO concerned for extension of their visas,” MHA statement says.
“Such foreign nationals may apply for an exit permission to the FRRO/FRO concerned before exiting the country, which would be granted on gratis basis without levy of any overstay penalty,” it adds.
India had suspended scheduled international flights on March 23, 2020, and the same are yet to resume. During this suspension period, international connectivity is provided by air bubble agreements India has worked with nearly 30 countries and Vande Bharat Mission flights.
However, during the ongoing catastrophic Covid catastrophe surge, about 20 air bubble countries have imposed restrictions like flight suspensions from India or stricter entry norms for travellers from here.