India relaxes visa, travel curbs for foreign professionals

The Government of India has decided to permit certain categories of foreign professionals to visit India, relaxing visa and travel restrictions for four major types of visitors following a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19

June 3, 2020

The categories of foreign visitors to India broadly include business people, healthcare professionals, design or managerial specialists, and engineers

The allowed categories of foreign nationals would need to obtain a fresh Business Visa or Employment Visa from Indian Missions abroad

In March 2020, the Government had launched the ‘Stranded in India’ portal to support foreign tourists unable to leave India amid the lockdown

The Indian Govt is running the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate nationals back to India, for which 259K Indians from 98 countries have registered

The Government of India has decided to permit certain categories of foreign nationals to visit India, relaxing visa and travel restrictions for four major types of visitors, as per an official statement on June 3.

These include foreign business people coming to India on a business visa (other than on B-3 visa for sports) in non-scheduled commercial/ chartered flights; healthcare professionals (this also includes health researchers, engineers, and technicians); design or managerial specialists travelling to India on behalf of foreign business entities located here; and lastly, foreign technical specialists and engineers travelling for installation, repair and maintenance of foreign-origin machinery and equipment facilities in India, on the invitation of a registered Indian business entity. 

These categories of foreign nationals would have to obtain a fresh Business Visa or Employment Visa from Indian Missions abroad. 

In late March this year, the Ministry of Tourism had also announced the launch of the ‘Stranded in India’ portal, as a means to provide help and support to thousands of foreign tourists currently unable to leave India due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on international travel. The portal connects stranded foreign tourists with comprehensive updates on the pandemic as well as vital information regarding special services available to them. The Ministry had previously established a 24×7 Toll-Free Helpline in 10 foreign languages, Hindi, and English for foreign tourists. 

Meanwhile, the Indian Government is running the Vande Bharat Mission, one of the largest initiatives to repatriate nationals back to India, since May 7. Under this mission, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is coordinating with the Ministry of External Affairs and various State Governments. Air India is operating a total of 64 flights to 12 countries to repatriate 14,800 Indians in the first phase. Over 259,000 Indians in 98 countries have registered to return under the Vande Bharat Mission. Most of them are workers (28%), students (25%), professionals (14.5%), and short-term visa holders such as tourists (7.6%). 

Last year, India had moved up six places to rank 34th on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index based on global tourism and travel. Through these initiatives, the Government continues its initiatives to enhance India’s image as a global tourism and business destination.