In a big move on Friday, May 22, the Ministry of Home Affairs permitted certain categories of Overseas Citizen of India cardholders to come to India amid the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown. The ban on the entry of OCI cardholders into the country was imposed on March 13 onwards even before curbs on international air travel were in place. As per the latest relaxation, the following shall be exempt from the international travel restrictions:-
1. Children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards
2. OCI cardholders who wish to visit India because of a family emergency like a death in the family
3. Couples where one spouse is an Indian national and the other is an OCI cardholder having a permanent residence in India
4. University students who are OCI cardholders whose parents are Indian nationals staying in India
Thus, the aforesaid categories of OCI cardholders stranded abroad can come to India via aircraft, ship, train, or any other designated vehicle during the lockdown. Currently, there are 1,18,447 confirmed novel coronavirus cases in India out of which 48,534 patients have been discharged and 3,583 casualties have been reported.
Relaxating Visa & Travel restrictions imposed in wake of #COVID19, certain categories of #OCI cardholders stranded abroad have been permitted to come to India.#coronavirus #strandedindians#IndiaFightsCoronavirus pic.twitter.com/3Ws7KzsekX— Spokesperson, Ministry of Home Affairs (@PIBHomeAffairs) May 22, 2020
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri revealed that more than 20,000 citizens stranded abroad had been repatriated under the aegis of the Vande Bharat Mission. He stressed that the emphasis was on rescuing genuinely stranded Indian nationals in foreign countries. Puri added that the private airlines will be permitted to carry out the evacuation of such people which would lead to an increase in the number of flights. On this occasion, he also explained the domestic flights would operate at only 1/3 of the capacity with the lower and upper limit of the ticket fare capped by the Centre. The domestic flight operations shall commence from May 25.