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New minimum visa validity period rule puts NRIs in trouble

Many UAE residents cannot travel back to host country due to revised SOP

A new visa norm set by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to allow Indians to travel abroad against the backdrop of the COVID-19-induced lockdown has placed hundreds of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in a piquant situation.

nri visa validity rule

The revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released by the MHA for movement of persons stranded in India who wish to travel abroad stipulates that the visas issued by their host country should have a minimum validity of three months.

The UAE-based Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust chairman K.V. Shamsudheen, who had already apprised Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Pavan Kapoor, Indian Ambassador to the UAE of the issue, said that the Emigration Department did not have a practice to check the validity of the visas of residents arriving the airport. “Even if the passengers have a one-day validity of that country’s visa, the authorities permit them to land at their airport. Some countries have stipulated the minimum validity of passport and not visas for arrival,” he said.

Good gesture

As a compassionate measure, Mr. Shamsudheen said that the UAE authorities had already announced that all visas expiring after March 1, 2020, would be considered valid till the end of December 2020. Its government instructed all stranded UAE visa-holders to register online to extend their visa till the year-end.

A large number of UAE residents who had visited the country for multiple reasons including holidaying, business and emergency health situation, cannot travel back to the host country owing to the new minimum visa validity period instructed by the Centre.

“Many of their families are in the UAE. Some of them are in critical situation in various establishments. Many students will also be stuck in India for longer period,” he said.

“The Centre should revise the new rule and permit all residents travel to the UAE. Otherwise those stranded Indians who cannot meet the visa validity rule will lose their jobs,” Mr. Shamsudheen said.

According to the SOP, only those persons will be allowed to travel to the destination countries, who are citizens of that country; who have an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) green card; Indian nationals who are holding visa of that country with a minimum residual validity of three months.

Minister’s tweet

Meanwhile, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted that a decision to resume regular international operations would be taken as soon as countries ease restrictions on entry of foreign nationals. Destination countries have to be ready to allow incoming flights.

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