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India allows foreign citizens, OCI & green card holders to travel back to their country of residence

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Amid the nationwide lockdown, the Indian government on Tuesday allowed travel to the destination countries for foreigners, green card holders and Overseas Citizenship Of India (OCI) card holders on their own cost.

Besides, those who hold visa of at least one-year duration of that foreign country and in case of medical emergency or death in the family of those Indian nationals holding six-month visa are also allowed to travel, the Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)on Tuesday said.

Such persons will apply to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) or to any agency designated by the ministry for this purpose along with necessary details, including the places of departure and arrival, as prescribed by it. Before the tickets of such persons are confirmed, the SOP clarified the MoCA will ensure that the destination country allows entry of such persons in that country.

“The conditions, if any, imposed by the destination country, will have to be fulfilled by the persons intending to travel,” the SOP reads.”The travel from India shall be on the non-scheduled commercial flights that are being arranged by MoCA for bringing back stranded Indian nationals from abroad and the cost of travel, as specified by MoCA, will be borne by such travellers.”

At the time of boarding the flight, MoCA will ensure that all travelers undergo thermal screening as per health protocol. “Only asymptomatic travelers would be allowed to board the flight.” While on board the flight, health protocol as issued by MoCA will be strictly followed, said the SOP, adding this would include wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene to be observed by airline staff, crew and all passengers.

The SOP came amid the ongoing lockdown which prohibited the international travel of passengers in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. The government decided to provide travel facilities to the stranded persons in India who desire to travel abroad urgently for various purposes but are stuck here since the lockdown was announced on March 24. The lockdown is in its third phase which will end on May 17.

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