Due to the worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus, India has temporarily suspended all visas issued before June 30, 2020 for citizens of other countries, with the exception of diplomats and long-term workers. This suspension will last one month and will likely be lifted once the virus is under control.
The new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019. By March 2020, it had been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and as of September 2020, there have been over 31 million cases worldwide.
Many states, including India, have taken action to prevent the spread of the disease. This includes introducing a number of travel restrictions on individuals entering the country.
Can I Still Apply for My eVisa to Visit India?
Under normal circumstances, travelers from many countries were eligible for the electronic visa or eVisa for India. This service is currently suspended. This means that it is not possible to obtain the eVisa at present.
Foreign nationals are also subject to a travel ban and are not permitted to visit India. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as for diplomats or close family members of Indian nationals.
A minority of nationalities must apply at an embassy for a traditional consular visa, which has also been suspended.
On 2 February 2020, it was announced that visa services would be temporarily unavailable for certain travelers in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus. The list of travelers affected by the suspension was extended on March 13th to all nationalities due to the increasing number of cases worldwide.
I Already Have an Indian eVisa, Can I Still Use It?
All citizens of foreign countries are currently prohibited from entering India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of whether or not they have a visa.
There are a number of exceptions to this rule. The following categories of traveler may enter India:
- Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) with a card or booklet
- Children (minors and students) of Indian nationals and OCIs
- Spouses of Indian nationals
- Single parents of a minor that has Indian citizenship
- International travelers transiting through India while returning home
- Diplomatic and official passport holders
- Travelers who hold a Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card (until September 30)
Any of these exceptional cases who require an eVisa for India must have one issued since 30 June 2020. All visas issued before this date were made invalid (with the exception of diplomatic, employment, UN, and most business visas).
When Will I Be Able to Travel to India With My eVisa?
It is currently unknown how long the visa suspension and current travel restrictions for India will last. The coronavirus pandemic continues to cause new cases around the world and until the situation is brought under control, international travel is likely to continue to be limited.
Once the number of COVID-19 cases in India has fallen, it is likely that the travel restrictions will ease and foreign nationals will be able to use their eVisa to visit the country.
In the meantime, if it is absolutely vital that a foreign traveler enters India, the following advisory notice was released by the Health Ministry addressing individuals with exceptional circumstances:
“Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for a compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission.”
Coronavirus Travel Restrictions for India
Commercial flights to India are currently suspended until September 30, 2020. However, certain flights still operate on relief and humanitarian missions.
Indian nationals and foreigners who are residents of the country may return home to India via repatriation flights.
Foreign nationals are not allowed to enter India apart from those listed above.
All visas issued before June 30, 2020 are invalid. Some categories will not be affected by the new measure. Such exceptions include holders of:
- Diplomatic visas
- UN/ international organization visas
- Employment visas
- Project visas
- Business visa (excluding B-3 visa for sports)
Passengers arriving in India must comply with the following requirements:
- Undergo medical screening and a 14-day quarantine
- Install the app Arogya Setu in their mobile device
- Complete a “self-declaration” form
How Do Visa Restrictions Affect Travelers Already in India?
Travelers already in India and unable to return home due to border closures and the suspension of flights can apply for a visa extension.
Foreigners are requested to complete the India eVisa extension online rather than going to the office in order to maintain social distancing.
By doing so foreigners can remain in India with a valid permit until they are able to leave India.
How Has Coronavirus Affected India?
India has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 5 million cases and over 90,000 fatalities, while over 4.5 million have recovered.
India was quick to respond to the pandemic in March. 21 airports across India installed thermal screening and medical check-up stations, including at Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. Quarantine centers were established and those showing symptoms are being directed to these facilities for testing.
With these precautions and the temporary visa ban on travelers, India initially only had a limited number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, as the pandemic progressed, the virus spread through the country’s large population as it has done through the rest of the world.
Aside from coronavirus, international visitors should always discuss the vaccines needed to travel to India with their healthcare practitioner a few weeks before their departure.
What Is COVID-19
COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus that had never been seen in humans before December 2019. Being a novel virus, no cure has been found yet.
Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, ranging from 4 mild variants that cause the common cold to serious types that cause illnesses like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
COVID-19 causes mild disease in most patients. Some cases are completely asymptomatic, while other patients are seriously ill. Although only a small percentage of cases are fatal, the virus is highly contagious, with millions of cases worldwide. This means that many fatalities have occurred—mainly among the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Typical symptoms are similar to those of a cold or flu:
- Sore throat
There is a huge international effort to contain the spread of the virus and find an effective method of treating it.
What Measures Should I Take When Traveling to India During the Pandemic?
Travelers who are permitted to enter India during the COVID-19 pandemic should comply with the requirement to undergo medical screening and quarantine for 2 weeks after arrival.
After this, it is important to maintain social distancing and wear a mask to minimize the risk of accidentally spreading coronavirus. Good hygiene practices are also recommended.
Individuals who discover they have difficulty breathing should consult a doctor immediately and, if necessary, self-isolate.