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India Updates COVID Restrictions

March 26, 2021

As India continues to battle a second COVID-19 wave, international commercial passenger services remain closed. However, international scheduled flights are permitted on select routes on a case-by-case basis. India has established an “air transport bubble” with certain countries, such as the U.S., France, Canada amongst others, for which air carriers can offer a limited number of international flights.

According to the latest guidelines issued by the Government of India, all international travelers must submit a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test report on arrival to India:

  • This test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey.
  • The test report along with a self-declaration form should also be uploaded to the online portal.

Travel history of passengers from the UK, Europe, and the Middle East will be taken for the last 14 days. Such passengers will be required to undergo a self-paid molecular test upon arrival.

All travelers from the UK, Brazil, and South Africa (who have tested negative) must undergo home quarantine for a period of 7 days. These passengers will be tested after 7 days, and if found negative, will be released from quarantine but must continue to monitor their health for a further period of 7 days.

The individual states in India impose their own protocols regarding quarantine and isolation and it is important that all travelers verify the travel requirements with the government sources and airline carriers prior to departure.

Visa and Document and Processing

Normal visa services and processing remain suspended until further notice. However, Indian Consulates are considering new employment or business visa applications on a case-by-case basis.

In January 2021, government offices resumed accepting applications for legalization in select jurisdictions. However, following a total lockdown, during which government offices were closed and legalization services were suspended, a backlog is anticipated.

Consular Services Update for UK and Some EU Countries  

  • The British High Commission in India is accepting visa applications for work and business categories and UK Visa Application Centers in India are operational and accepting visa applications. Appointments are readily available for work visas and visas required for urgent business travel and usual visa processing timelines are applicable. The British High Commission has reinstated the “Priority Visa Service” but not the Super Priority Service.  
    • Upon entering the UK, applicants must adhere to local public health measures and quarantine requirements.
  • The France Visa Application Center in Mumbai is operational only on Mondays and Wednesdays with prior appointments. The Consulate General of France in Bangalore and Hyderabad are accepting visa applications only for certain categories, namely Spouse/Partner of French or EU citizen; applicants for long-stay Family Reunion visa (only after prior permission to apply from the Consulate General of France); health professionals; students; foreign nationals working for diplomatic or consular missions, or an international organization with its headquarters or an office in France; and intra-company transfer workers and their dependent applicants. 
  • Visa Application Centers for Greece in New Delhi and in Mumbai are accepting applications for specific purposes of travel, including spouse and/or children of Greek, EU, or Schengen area citizens; permanent residents in Greece, the EU, or the Schengen area; Members of Diplomatic or Consular Missions; emergency cases for “C” type Visa; essential business or family emergency cases. The issuance of Schengen “C” type Visas is very limited and only for essential travelers. Additionally, until further notice National “D” Visas applications for Family Reunification and Employment are not being accepted.

  • Italy is only allowing nationals of non-European countries (i.e. third-country nationals) to enter for essential purposes such as work reasons, absolute urgency, health reasons, study, and domicile or residence.  The Italian government has reopened several visa application centers with either partial or full services.  In India, the Visa Application Center in Mumbai is accepting a limited number of short and long stay category applications, whereas the Center in New Delhi is accepting re-entry visa applications, with operating hours from 10 am to 2 pm IST. 
  • From March 1, 2021, the Poland Visa Application Centers in India are offering appointments for certain work visa categories upon prior online prepayment of the relevant service fee. All national work visa applicants must procure a letter from the employer confirming the willingness to still employ the applicant especially for those work permits which have been issued more than 3 months prior the date of the visa appointment.