On March 11, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government suspended all foreign and tourist visas with the exceptions of diplomatic, official, United Nations and other international organizations, employment, and project visas. On April 14, 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide lockdown until at least May 3.
The temporary suspension includes the visa-free travel usually granted to OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) cardholders. As India does not allow dual citizenship, OCI cardholders traditionally have Indian heritage and close ties to the country but are officially citizens of another country. There are about three million OCI cardholders worldwide who could potentially be affected by this hold.
OCI cardholders are required to obtain a new Indian visa from Mission/Post before they are allowed to re-enter India, unless they are coming from a restricted country. Restricted countries include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, effective as of 12:00 GMT on March 18, 2020. Restricted countries also include Afghanistan, Malaysia, and the Philippines as of 15:00 IST on March 17, 2020.
Even infants and children with foreign passports, an OCI card, and Indian parents are likewise required to get a fresh visa.
Indian citizens and OCI cardholders alike are finding it difficult to obtain fresh Indian visas, as Indian embassies and consulates around the world remain closed. Media outlets report that as the Indian government implemented these measures swiftly and on short notice, many Indian citizens and residents didn’t have sufficient time to make alternate travel plans and are currently stranded overseas, away from their loved ones.
Further, OCI cardholders who are either coming from or who have visited the Republic of Korea and Italy and who have obtained a new Indian visa must also present COVID-19 Negative Certificates before being allowed to enter the country.
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