The visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders not in India at present would continue to be suspended till the time a prohibition on international air travel of passengers from and to India was in force, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Friday.
However, the OCI card holders already in India could stay in the country for "any length of time", it clarified. According to MHA Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava, any foreign national holding an OCI card intending to travel to India for compelling reasons would have have to contact the nearest Indian mission.
The ministry has kept in abeyance multiple-entry life-long visas given to OCI card holders till international travel remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also said that the government is making travel arrangements for green card-holders, OCI card-holders and foreigners who want to leave the country for various reasons.
Multiple Entry Lifelong Visa of OCI cardholders remains suspended for the duration of lockdown. (Except for those OCI already in India, whose card shall be valid till the duration of their stay.)— Spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs (@PIBHomeAffairs) May 8, 2020
OCI cardholders wishing to travel to India reason should contact Indian missions. pic.twitter.com/d1ojqDsfXv
The OCI is an immigration status permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely. The OCI was introduced in response to demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries.
All existing visas issued to nationals of any country who have not yet entered India, will remain suspended till prohibition on international air travel of passengers from/to India is lifted. Exceptions include Visa issued to diplomats, official passport holders, those in UN/international organisations, and those on Employment and Project visas.
According to the Indian embassy, regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation of all foreign nationals whose visas have expired or would be expiring during the period from 1 February, 2020 (midnight) till the date on which prohibition on international air travel of passengers from India is lifted, would be extended on GRATIS basis on submission of online application with the FRRO/FRO.
India has suspended domestic and international passenger flights till May 17 as part of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. From March 24, the country is under a nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of novel coronavirus that has claimed 1,783 lives while the number of cases have gone up to 52,952 as of Thursday.
The number of Covid-19 cases in India stands at 59,695 while 1,985 people have succumbed to the disease so far.