The move comes at a time when the government is considering a calibrated resumption of international flights from next month depending on the pandemic situation.
Highlighting issues being faced by Indian nationals in getting visas due to suspension of services, the MEA wrote to diplomatic missions on June 9.
“This ministry is receiving a number of requests from Indian nationals/trade bodies/other organisations regarding difficulties being faced by bona fide Indian nationals in obtaining visas of foreign countries due to continued suspension of such services by some diplomatic missions in India… Several of them intend to travel to foreign countries for various reasons including emergency/compelling reasons, to rejoin family members residing abroad, resumption of education,” the letter stated.
Some Indians who live and work abroad were stranded when international flights were suspended on March 22. “In some cases, their visas have expired and they need to re-apply at foreign diplomatic missions in India to travel back to their country of residence. In few cases, Indian citizens who had submitted their original passports to foreign diplomatic missions in India for processing of their visa applications before lockdown have not yet received their passports back,” the letter added.
Senior officials of foreign airlines welcomed the move and said resuming visa processing could be seen as a sign of new normalcy returning post-pandemic.
India had suspended most existing visas to foreigners on March 10 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In past few weeks, India has begun lifting restrictions on entry of foreigners in a calibrated manner. Schedule commercial international flights are suspended till the month-end.
Aviation minister H S Puri had said on June 20: “We can start regular international flights when our domestic traffic reaches about 50-60% & other countries open up to international traffic without present conditionalities. Once the situation evolves in that direction we will consider a calibrated opening.”