In some relief for foreign nationals stranded in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian govenment has decided to extend their visas till August 31 on gratis basis or free of charge. The decision was taken in view of the to the non-availability of commercial flight services due to the pandemic, said the Union Home Ministry. As a result, a number of foreign nationals, who arrived in India prior to the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 on valid Indian visas got stranded in the country.
Keeping in view the difficulties being faced by such foreign nationals in getting their visas extended due to the lockdown, the Home Ministry had issued an order on June 29, 2020. In the order, the Indian government said that the Indian visa or stay stipulation period of such foreign nationals expiring post June 30, 2020 shall be deemed to be valid until 30 more days from the date of resumption of normal international flight operations, on gratis basis. However, such foreign nationals have been applying for extension of their visas or stay stipulation period on a monthly basis, the Home Ministry said in a statement.
The matter has now been reconsidered by the ministry in the light of non-resumption of normal commercial flight operations, and it has accordingly been decided that the Indian visa or stay stipulation period of such foreign nationals stranded in India will be considered as deemed to be valid till August 31, 2021 on gratis basis without levy of any overstay penalty, the statement said. These foreign nationals will not be required to submit any application to the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) concerned for extension of their visas. Such foreign nationals may apply for an exit permission to the FRRO or FRO concerned before exiting the country, which would be granted on gratis basis without levy of any overstay penalty, the statement said.