Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry on Friday extended till May 3 the consular service to foreigners stranded in India due to the travel restrictions in place across the country in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The government has granted consular service on a gratis basis to foreign nationals. Consular assistance is the help and advice provided by the diplomatic agents of a country to citizens of that country who are living or travelling overseas. The diplomats may be honorary consuls, or members of the country's diplomatic service.

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The facility will be provided on gratis basis, after a foreigner makes an online application. Exit to such foreign nationals, if so requested by them during this period, will also be granted to them up to 14 days beyond May 3, i.e. May 17, without levy of overstay penalty.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on March 28 had given relief to the foreigners till April 30 in the wake of 21-day countrywide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The facility has been extended till May 3 after extension of the lockdown for further 19 days.

India suspends visas granted to foreigners till May 3

The Government of India has suspended all existing visas granted to foreigners and all incoming passenger traffic into India through Immigration Check Posts (ICPs) till May 3.

The rules will be applied to all except certain categories, an order issued by the foreigners' division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said.

The ministry decided to extend the suspension of all existing visas granted to foreigners, except to those belonging to diplomatic, official, UN or international organisations, and employment and project categories, till May 3 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The ministry further directed that all incoming passenger traffic into India through any of the 107 ICPs shall remain suspended till May 3, which is the last date of the second phase of countrywide lockdown imposed to break the chain of transmission of Covid-19.

Similar restrictions were earlier issued by the Home Ministry when the first 21-day lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the midnight March 24.

Also Read: Coronavirus: India Temporarily Suspends E-Visa Facility For Chinese And Foreigners Residing In China

Modi extended the lockdown for another 19 days on Tuesday as the pandemic is still growing in India, claiming 452 lives and the number of active cases going beyond the 11,500-mark.

However, no such restriction would apply on vehicles, planes, ships and trains carrying any goods and supplies, whether essential or non-essential, the government order said.

"Their crew, sailor, driver, helper and cleaner shall also be subjected to thorough medical screening for Covid-19," it said.

(With Agency Inputs)