Indian diplomatic missions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have opened a new e-registration service to allow nationals of India to return to their home country for a number of reasons during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The online service enables Indian citizens in the UAE to register their data in order to gain authorization to travel back to India.
On Wednesday, April 29, the Embassy of India in Abu Dhabi released a public notice detailing the data collection process via the Embassy’s website and the website of the Consulate of India in Dubai. The notice gave the following information to citizens of India currently in the Emirates:
“All Indian nationals in the UAE are hereby informed that the Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India, Dubai, have uploaded a form for [the] collection of data to create a database of Indians who wish to travel back to India under COVID-19 situation.”
According to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the information submitted will be used to help the Indian government prepare for the arrivals of Indian citizens coming from abroad during the coronavirus pandemic and take appropriate steps to help contain the spread of the disease.
This move comes after a number of Indian nationals in the UAE have called for their government to help repatriate them to India amid the lockdowns and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Indian citizens stranded in the Emirates include visit visa holders, workers who have lost their jobs, pregnant women, and elderly individuals.
The Indian government plans to begin a massive repatriation effort to bring thousands of its nationals home from several different countries, including the UAE.
The e-Registration Form
Each Indian citizen currently in the United Arab Emirates who plans to return to India must complete an e-registration form.
In the case of families returning together, a form must be filled in for each family member, including children.
Apart from personal details (full name, date of birth, etc.), travelers must provide the compelling reason they wish to fly to India and indicate their status regarding coronavirus testing (positive, negative, or test not done).
If the e-registration is successful, applicants will receive the message “Thank you for registering with us”. According to the instructions from the Embassy, Indian citizens should fill out the form again if they do not see this message.
Although India has not yet lifted its suspension on commercial passenger flights, it plans to begin a large-scale evacuation of its citizens from a number of foreign countries, including the UAE, beginning on May 7, 2020.
The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi stressed that e-registration does not automatically entitle anyone to a seat on a plane to India.
First, the information about the number of Indian citizens who wish to return home and their circumstances must be compiled and preparations must be made.
Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor said that India’s diplomatic missions in the Emirates were waiting for New Delhi to clarify various issues before evacuation proceedings could begin.
Shortly after the e-registration service was launched on April 29, some users experienced technical difficulties with the online platform. In the early hours of April 30, the Consulate General of India in Dubai warned via a tweet that the page could take a while to load because of the volume of traffic.
To ensure that the e-registration has worked, Indian citizens have been advised to check that they receive the message “Thank you for registering with us” after filling in the form. This indicates that their details have been registered successfully.
If this message does not appear, it is advisable to re-register.
Indian Nationals Stranded Abroad
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many flights around the world have been suspended and the majority of countries have implemented restrictions on travel. Anyone stranded abroad is advised to check global travel restrictions and worldwide visa information regularly for updates.
In addition to the e-registration being implemented by the Indian Embassy and Consulate General in the United Arab Emirates, a similar system has been launched by the state government of Kerala, India. Thousands of Keralites stranded in various parts of the world have already registered their details with this initiative.
Indian nationals who are uncertain how they can return home should contact their nearest embassy or consulate of India for help and advice. In the meantime, all rules and regulations related to the coronavirus outbreak should be strictly adhered to.