NEW DELHI: 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 the spread of COVID-19 in many parts of the world and also due to travel restrictions imposed by 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 said that after considering the matter, it has been decided to extend the period of providing consular services by the Office of Foreigners Regional Registration Officers and Foreigners Registration Officers to foreign nationals, presently stranded in India.
Exit to such foreign nationals, if so requested by them during this period, will also be granted up to 14 days beyond May 3, i.e. May 17, without levy of overstay penalty.
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 home ministry has further directed that all incoming passenger traffic in India through any of the 107 immigration check posts shall remain suspended till May 3.
However, no such restriction would apply to vehicles, planes, ships, conveyance, trains and other carrying any goods and supplies whether essential or non-essential.
Their crew, sailor, driver, helper, cleaner and others shall be subjected to thorough medical screening for COVID-19.
In order to remove confusion, the home ministry on March 28 had granted consular services on a gratis basis to foreign nationals, presently residing in India due to travel restrictions in the context of COVID-19 outbreak, till April 30.
The government had first extended the regular visa and e-visa of foreigners who are currently in India and unable to leave the country due to coronavirus outbreak till April 15.
Subsequently, the home ministry extended it till April 30.
Several thousand foreign nationals are in the country since the imposition of travel restrictions and are unable to exit the country during the validity of their visa.
The ministry has also provided the essential consular services through the office of the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers and Foreigners Registration Officers to foreign nationals.
The exit of such foreign nationals, if so requested by them during this period, will be granted without levy of overstay penalty, the ministry had said earlier.
The lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
It was further extended till May 3.