In a key development, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday extended the validity of Indian visas or stay stipulated period of foreign nationals stranded in India on account of the travel restrictions imposed because of the second wave of COVID-19. As per information provided by the Ministry, the aforementioned documents of the foreign nationals will be considered valid till Aug 31, without submission of an application to FRRO/FRO concerned for visa extension or levy of any overstay penalty.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had issued an order on 29.06.2020 conveying that the Indian Visa or stay stipulation period of such foreign nationals expiring post 30.06.2020 shall be deemed to be valid until 30 more days from the date of resumption of normal international flight operations, on a gratis basis. However, such foreign nationals have been applying for an extension of their visas or stay stipulation period on a monthly basis.
Keeping in view the applications, the matter was reconsidered by the MHA, and it has 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 31.08.2021 on a gratis basis without levy of any overstay penalty. Also, these foreign nationals will not be required to submit an application to the FRRO/FRO concerned for extension of their visas
Such foreign nationals may apply for exit permission to the FRRO/FRO concerned before exiting the country, which would be granted on a gratis basis without levy of any overstay penalty.
This development comes after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended the suspension on scheduled international passenger flights till June 30. However, the restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA, and flights on selected routes that may be allowed by the concerned authority from case to case basis in the future.
"In partial modification of circular dated 26-06-2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of 30th June 2021. This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA, the DGCA circular read.
It is pertinent to mention here that the suspension was imposed on international flights on March 23, 2020, and flights have been inoperational ever since, with the exception of a few flights operating under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral 'air bubble' arrangements with selected countries since July. India has an 'air bubble' arrangement with 27 countries, include the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan, and France among others, as per which special flights can be operated by the airlines between the countries.