The Home Ministry on Friday extended regular and e-visas of all foreigners who are stranded in India due to the coronavirus lockdown till May 3 on gratis basis. The Home Ministry also said the visa granted to those foreigners, except diplomats and UN officials, who are supposed to come to India, will remain suspended till May 3, an official statement said.
Regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation, of such foreign nationals who have been stranded in India because of spread of COVID-19 in many parts of the world and also due to travel restrictions imposed by the Indian authorities, and whose visas have expired or would be expiring during the period from February 1 (midnight) to May 3 (midnight), would be extended till midnight of May 3 on 'Gratis' basis, after online application by the foreigner, the statement said.
The Home Ministry has also decided to extend the suspension of all existing visas granted to foreigners, except to those belonging to diplomatic, official, UN and international organisations, employment and project categories, till May 3, it said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued fresh exemptions from lockdown restrictions to certain activities in rural areas including farm work in forests and plantations, operations at financial institutions and construction activities with necessary instructions. The list of exemptions will come under the consolidated revised guidelines to all Ministries/Departments.
The Centre has been updating these guidelines to exempt more and more activities since the original guidelines were published on April 15, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of the Coronavirus lockdown till May 3. The recent order was issued on Thursday.
Following are the list of fresh exemptions:
-Collection, harvesting and processing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP)/ Non-timber Forest Produce (NTFP) by Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers in forest areas;
-Bamboo, coconut, areca nut (supari), cocoa, spices plantations and their harvesting, processing, packaging, sale and marketing;
-Non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) including Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) and Micro Finance Companies (NBFC--MFIs), with bare minimum staff;
-Cooperative Credit Societies
-Construction activities in rural areas to include water supply and sanitation, laying/erection of power transmission lines and laying of telecom optical fibre and cable along with related activities.
MHA extends visas of all foreigners, who are in India and stranded due to lockdown, till May 3: officials.
(With PTI Inputs)