wld_virus india-1584000624217
Vendors wearing protective masks serve customers at a pharmacy in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: India has suspended most visas to the country in a determined effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The new norms were issued on Wednesday night by the Bureau of Immigration under the Home Ministry in the wake of growing cases of Covid-19.

“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020,” the statement said. Millions of foreign nationals of Indian origin, who are traditionally granted visa-free access, will now also need to apply, the order read.

Here’s a look at the new restrictions by India and what they mean.

What are the new visa restrictions?

All existing visas issued to nationals of any country stand suspended until April 15, 2020. However, exemptions have been made for diplomats, officials, UN/ international organisations, employment and project visas.

When will they take effect?

The new measures will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13.

What happens to foreigners already in India?

The visas of all foreigners in India remain valid. They may contact the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO)/ Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for extension or conversion of their visa or grant of any consular service.

What about those with Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards?

Visa free travel facility granted to OCI card holders shall be kept in abeyance till April 15, 2020.

What if a foreigner has a pressing need to visit the country?

Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons may contact the nearest Indian mission for fresh visa.

What about quarantine measures?

Any traveller to India, including Indian nationals, arriving from any destination and having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany on or after February 15, 2020, shall be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13 at the port of departure of such travellers.

Is there any restriction on international travel over land?

International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated immigration checkposts with medical screening facilities.

Is there an advisory for Indians travelling back home?

The Ministry of Home Affairs has advised Indian nationals abroad to avoid non-essential travel. They can be quarantined for 14 days on their arrival in India. Additionally, all Indians have been advised to avoid non-essential travel abroad.