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COVID-19: Updated Standard Operating Protocol issued by Indian Ministry of Home Affairs for Indian Nationals Stranded Abroad and Other Country Nationals Stranded in India

  • June 1, 2020
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We earlier reported that special flights and naval ships were arranged for repatriation of Indian Nationals stranded abroad. On May 24, 2020, Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an updated Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for Indian Nationals stranded abroad and for other country nationals stranded in India intending to visit U.S. for urgent reasons. This order supersedes previous SOP issued on May 4, 2020.

SOP for Indian Nationals stranded abroad

Priority will be given to Indian nationals stranded abroad with compelling or urgent need for travel. This includes:

  • temporary workers/ labourers who have been laid off;
  • persons with expired visas or with visas about to expire;
  • persons with medical emergency/ pregnant women/ elderly; 
  • persons intending to return to India due to death of family member, and 
  • students.

Government of India commenced facilitating return of stranded Indian nationals by arranging non-commercial flights and naval ships since May 7, 2020. The cost of travel must be borne by the travellers. At this moment, only asymptomatic persons would be permitted to travel to India and travellers must undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days – self paid 7-day institutional quarantine, followed by 7-day isolation at home.

SOP for persons stranded in India and intend to travel abroad

Intending travellers must apply to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) or to any agency designated by MoCA, with necessary details. The travel from India would be on non-scheduled commercial flights arranged by MoCA for bringing back stranded Indian Nationals in other countries. MoCA will permit travel only if the destination country allows entry of such persons.

Persons who are eligible to apply for travel abroad:

The following persons may apply to travel abroad. 

  • Citizens of the destination country;
  • Persons holding a visa with validity of one year or more;
  • Green card or Overseas Citizen of India card holders;
  • In cases of medical emergency or death in the family, Indian Nationals with six-month visa for the destination country can also be permitted to travel and 
  • Indian seafarers/ crew seeking to accept contracts to serve on vessels abroad, are permitted to travel subject to clearance by the Ministry of Shipping.

All travellers at the time of boarding the flight must undergo thermal screening as per health protocol. The cost of travel must be borne by the travellers. All travellers must follow precautions such as wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene etc. as prescribed.