India has temporarily suspended visas for travelers from Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
All electronic visas (eVisas) and consular (sticker) visas issued on or before March 3, 2020 to nationals of these 4 countries have been declared invalid and will no longer permit the bearer to enter India.
The southern Asian state has asked that Italian, Iranian, Japanese, and South Korean citizens and residents who had obtained an Indian visa avoid traveling if possible. If such individuals do need to come to India for compelling reasons, they must apply for a new visa.
This follows the suspension of all eVisas and consular visas issued to Chinese nationals, which was announced on February 5, 2020.
Anyone who has visited Italy, Iran, Japan, or South Korea since February 1, 2020 will also find that their Indian visas are now suspended, regardless of nationality.
This suspension is likely to last only until the COVID-19 outbreak is brought under control. Until then, it is important to check visa requirements before traveling to India or to most other countries.
Coronavirus Outbreak Leads to Travel Restrictions to India
The 4 countries mentioned above have all experienced surges in the number of people infected with COVID-19.
South Korea has the largest number outside China, with over 4,800 cases, while in Iran the number of patients has risen from 1,000 to over 1,500 in a matter of days. Over 2,000 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Italy and Japan has over 250 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
There have also been over 100 reported cases in France, Germany, Singapore, Spain, and the US.
The recent rises in cases in Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea have led India to cancel all existing visas from these states.
India’s Bureau of Immigration (BoI) released the following order:
“All regular (sticker) Visas/e-Visa (including VoA for Japan and South Korea) granted to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and issued on or before 03.03.2020 and who have not yet entered India, stand suspended with immediate effect. Those requiring to travel to India due to compelling reasons, may seek fresh visa from nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate.”
Individuals from these suspended countries may still travel to India on a visa if they are one of the following, although they must undergo medical screening:
- Officials of the UN and other international bodies
- OCI cardholders
What Precautions Has India Taken Against Coronavirus?
As coronavirus continues to spread around the world, India has imposed a number of travel restrictions and taken precautions to try and contain the outbreak. The country has had around 30 cases of COVID-19 and hopes to prevent more.
So far, visas issued before March 3, 2020 have been temporarily suspended for the following countries, which have all had a large number of reported cases of the novel coronavirus:
- South Korea
The order from India’s Bureau of Immigration (BoI) also stated that the visa suspension also applies to all foreign travelers who have visited these 5 countries on or after February 1, 2020:
“Regular (sticker) visas/e-Visas granted to all foreign nationals who have travelled to Peoples Republic of China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan on or after 01.02.2020 [February 1, 2020], and who have not yet entered India stand suspended with immediate effect. Those requiring to travel to India under compelling circumstances may apply for fresh visa to nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate.”
The number of flights between India and these locations has also been reduced.
All passengers on international flights to India must now complete a self-declaration form and submit it to health and immigration officials upon arrival. This will detail the individual’s travel history and personal details such as address and contact number while staying in India.
All travelers, including Indian citizens, who are coming to India from the following countries and territories (if permitted) must undergo medical screening when they arrive:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
The government of India has asked that its citizens avoid visiting China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and other areas affected by COVID-19 unless completely necessary until the outbreak is under control.
The suspension of visas is a temporary measure taken by the Indian government and will be lifted in the future, once the coronavirus outbreak is under control. International travelers planning trips to India are advised to consult global visa information regularly for updates.