No visas will be granted to foreigners to travel through land borders. They can enter India either through "water routes or by flights", states the new visa guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) allowing international travel from October 15, The Economic Times reports.
The tourist and e-visas will be single entry for a month instead of the earlier double entry, according to the MHA, according to the report.
On October 7, the home ministry announced the easing of restrictions on visas and international travel, banned since March 2020 due to the pandemic. From November 15, all individual foreign nationals will be allowed to enter India after observing Covid-19 protocols, the Indian daily also reports.
Regarding land borders, a senior home ministry official was quoted to have said, "There are currently nine integrated check posts operational in India at Attari, Agartala, Petrapole, Raxaul, Jogbani, Moreh, Sutarkandi, Srimantapur and Karatapur which will not be opened for foreigners on tourist visas."
India shares land borders with China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar.
Foreign nationals planning to travel to India will have to get fresh visas and the existing visas will remain suspended, the home ministry guidelines reportedly stated.
"The bureau of immigration, Indian mission and posts abroad may grant fresh single-entry e-tourist or tourist visas for 30 days. Existing e-tourist visas shall remain suspended," it was cited as adding.
The Economic Times quoted an official as explaining that chartered flights means bubble flights under Vande Bharat mission or any scheduled or non-scheduled commercial flights allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Under the air bubble scheme, commercial airlines from specific countries are allowed to travel to and from India on a limited basis.
Home ministry officials was quoted by the Indian daily as saying that a negative list of countries where Covid-19 cases remain a concern is also being drawn up. The government has announced 500,000 free visas to boost tourism. The free visa move is expected to incentivise short-term tourists visiting India, the official was quoted as adding.
For over a month, according to the Economic Times report. the MHA had been deliberating modalities with all major stakeholders like the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Tourism and various state governments where foreign tourists are expected to arrive.