New Delhi: In a big development, Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders and foreign nationals can visit India for any purpose, except on tourist visa, the government said on Thursday (October 22) as it eased visa and travel restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a notification that such a relaxation is applicable to both foreign nationals and Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India.

“In view of the situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of India had taken a series of steps to curtail the inward and outward movement of international passengers since February 2020. The Government has now decided to make a graded relaxation in visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals and Indian nationals who wish to enter or leave India.

“Therefore, it has been decided to permit all OCI and PIO card holders and all other foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose, except on a Tourist Visa, to enter by air or water routes through authorized airports and seaport immigration check posts,” the MHA release said.

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Under this graded relaxation, Government of India has also decided to restore with immediate effect all existing visas (except electronic visa, Tourist Visa and Medical Visa), the statement said.

MHA has also said that if the validity of such visas has expired, fresh visas of appropriate categories can be obtained from Indian Mission/Posts concerned. Foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment can apply for a Medical Visa including for their medical attendants.

This will also include flights operated under Vande Bharat Mission, Air Transport Bubble arrangements or by any non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. All such travellers will, however have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding quarantine and other health/COVID-19 matters.