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Passengers queue at Delhi Airport check-in on the first day of domestic flights resuming on Monday Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Indian missions in the UAE are awaiting more clarity on the procedures for the return of UAE residents stuck in India, an official told Gulf News on Monday.

India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday issued a Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for movement of persons stranded in India who want to travel abroad for urgent reasons.

It said such persons would have to apply to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) or to any agency designated by MoCA for this purpose, along with necessary details, including the places of departure and arrival, as prescribed by MoCA.

“The travel from India would be on non-scheduled commercial flights that have been allowed by MoCA for bringing back stranded Indian nationals from abroad. The cost of travel would have to be borne by the travellers,” the SOP stated.

Travel to destination countries would be allowed for those who are citizens of that country; who hold visa of at least one-year duration of that country; and green card or OCI card holder.

In the case of the UAE, this means that travel would be facilitated to only those who hold visa of at least one-year.

“In cases of medical emergency or death in the family, Indian nationals holding six-month visa can also be allowed. Before the tickets of such persons are confirmed, MoCA will ensure that the destination country allows entry of such persons in that country,” the ministry said.

However, Neeraj Agrawal, consul for Press, Information and Culture at the Indian Consulate in Dubai on Monday said the missions here are awaiting more clarity on these procedures.

“We need to hear from the UAE’s side their plans about allowing people to return to the UAE for resident visa holders,” said Agrawal.

Though the UAE has announced that resident stranded outside can register to return from June 1, Agrawal said more clarity on the procedures is awaited, especially related to the visa-status of those who are allowed to return and when exactly they can return.

No special flight from Indian side

He also clarified that India will not be operating special flights like the repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission to facilitate the return of UAE residents stranded in India.

The non-scheduled flights specified in the SOP refer to specially chartered flights like the ones in which Indian medics were flown to the UAE or strategic flights arranged in cooperation with foreign governments for the evacuation of their citizens to their countries, Agrawal explained.

“Normal flights for Indians stuck back home to go abroad will still take time and will depend on the MoCA guidelines and also the rules in the receiving countries.”

However, the ministry stated in the SOP that Indian seafarers or crew seeking to accept contracts to serve on vessels abroad, can travel on the non-scheduled commercial flights departing from India under the Vande Bharat Mission or other flights arranged by their employers, subject to clearance given by the Ministry of Shipping.

At the time of boarding the flight, MoCA will ensure that all travellers undergo thermal screening as per health protocol.

Only travellers showing no symptoms would be allowed to board the flight.

While on board the flight, required precautions such as wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene etc. would have to be observed by everyone on board, the SOP added.