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Relief for stranded NRIs as Centre allows travel, with strict conditions

305 NRIs are returning to the United Kingdom by a British Airways special flight, in Amritsar (ANI)Premium
305 NRIs are returning to the United Kingdom by a British Airways special flight, in Amritsar (ANI)

The ministry has now stated that only those people will be allowed to travel out of India to their destination countries if their visa for that country is valid for at least one year or the passenger is a greencard or OCI (overseas citizen of India) card holder

New Delhi: As India’s repatriation exercise continues, the Union home ministry has now outlined stringent protocols for non-residential Indians to return to their destination countries.

While the Centre’s move comes days after it had given the go-ahead for NRIs to return abroad, it is now treading cautiously with India now taking small steps to open up domestic air traffic, even as it mulls the resumption of commercial international flights, in due course.

On Sunday, the Union home ministry issued a fresh order stating, “Such persons will apply to the ministry of civil aviation or to any agency designated by MoCA for this purpose along with necessary details, including places of departure and arrival as prescribed by MoCA."

However, in a bid to prevent the covid-19 outbreak from spiralling out of control, the Centre has attached stringent conditions to the return of NRIs, abroad.

The ministry has now stated that only those people will be allowed to travel out of India to their destination countries if their visa for that country is valid for at least one year or the passenger is a greencard or OCI (overseas citizen of India) card holder. However, the centre has made a concession for people who will be travelling for medical emergencies or a death of a family member, with such passengers being required to hold a visa that is valid for six months.

While their travel from India will be on “non-scheduled commercial flights that are allowed by the MoCA for bringing back stranded Indians," on the basis of confirmed tickets, the ministry of civil aviation will also be required to ensure the extent of travel restrictions in the destination country and whether or not stranded NRIs will be permitted to enter their destination country.

At the same time, the cost of travel will have to be borne by the passengers themselves and “only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to board the flight."

The MHA also reiterated the protocols that have been dictating the repatriation of Indians who had been stranded abroad. While the ministry has said that Indians stranded abroad need to register with their Indian missions in that country, priority will be given to cases of distress, including migrant workers who have been laid off as well as people faced with the expiry of short term visas, those with a medical emergencies, pregnant women and the elderly. Those required to return to India due to death of family member, and students will also be given priority.

However, even amongst the returnees, only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed on board the repatriation flight.

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