The Ministry of Home Affairs has lifted restrictions on e-visas, including e-Business Visa, e-Medical Visa, e-Medical Attendant Visa and e-Conference Visa.
These visas were all suspended last year in March, just before the national lockdown, in light of the rising Covid numbers.
An order issued on March 30 by MHA says, “Vide Office Memorandum 25022/28/2020-F.I dated 30.03.2021, e-Visa under the following categories viz. e-Business Visa, e-Medical Visa, e-Medical Attendant Visa and e-Conference Visa has been restored with immediate effect."
The new order will allow nationals from 156 countries to come to India for treatment, attending to patients and also for business and conference purposes.
The relaxation comes at a time when India is reeling from a worrying spike in Covid-19 infections.
Maharashtra has initiated strict restrictions till April 30 and several cities like Surat, Raipur, Lucknow , Ahmedabad, reporting unavailability of hospital beds. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has also announced steps like sending stable Covid patients home to free up hospital beds and attaching banquet halls as Covid centers to hospitals. The Delhi chief minister has also announced lockdowns to break the chain.
MHA officials told News18 the decision to open e-visa is unlikely to add the burden on health infrastructure. “The e-visa on medical grounds will be granted only if the applicant can show a confirmed appointment at a hospital. If the hospitals are overwhelmed, they will obviously not give an appointment," an officer said.
The MHA order will allow nationals except those from China and the UK to travel to India under e-visa schemes. Travel restrictions for these two countries are set to be reviewed this month.
The MHA order dated October 2020 had restored all visas except e-visa, tourist visa and medical visa. The MHA O.M. No.25022/24/2020-F.V/F.I dated 21.10.2020 said, “All existing visas, except electronic visas (e-Visa), Tourist visa and Medical Visa, which remained suspended, shall stand restored with immediate effect. If the validity of such visa has expired, the foreign national may obtain a fresh visa of appropriate category/sub-category from the Indian Mission/Post concerned. In the case of Medical Visa (including visa for Medical Attendants), foreign nationals intending to visit India for medical treatment in emergencies may be granted a Medical visa for an appropriate period by the Indian Missions/Posts."
In the latest order dated March 20,2021 MHA has reiterated the ban on tourist visas. “E-Visa under Tourist category is presently suspended," MHA order says.