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India begins opening doors for foreigners; allows charter flights from abroad for some categories

NEW DELHI: India is beginning to open up again for business for foreigners in a phased manner. The Union home ministry’s foreigners division on Monday permitted certain categories of foreign nationals to come to India, including foreign businessmen coming on a business visa (other than on B-3 visa for sports) in non-scheduled commercial chartered flights.
A senior aviation official said that non-schedule commercial charter flights from abroad have been allowed from abroad have been allowed now after the MHA order.
At present, schedule international passengers flights are suspended till the month-end. This restriction, however, does not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). India had on March 11 suspended most existing visas to foreigners.

The categories of foreigners allowed are:
* Foreign businessmen coming to India on a business visa (other than on B-3 visa for sports) in non-scheduled commercial chartered flights.
* Foreign healthcare professionals, health researchers, engineers and technicians for technical work at Indian health sector facilities, including laboratories and factories. This is subject to a letter of invitation from a recognised and registered healthcare facility, registered pharmaceutical company or accredited University in India.
* Foreign engineering, managerial, design or other specialists travelling to India on behalf of foreign business entities located in India. This includes all manufacturing units, design units, software and IT units as well as financial sector companies (banking and non- banking financial sector firms).
* Foreign technical specialists and engineers travelling for installation, repair and maintenance of foreign-origin machinery and equipment facilities in India, on the invitation of a registered Indian business entity. These could be for equipment installation, or is under warranty, or for after sales servicing or repair on commercial terms.
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The foreign nationals allowed under these four categories “shall have to obtain a fresh business visa or employment visa, as applicable, from Indian missions/ posts abroad.
Foreign nationals holding a valid long-term multiple entry business visa (other than B-3 visa for sports) issued by Indian missions/ posts abroad shall have to get the business visa re-validated from Indian mission / post concerned. Such foreign nationals will not be permitted to travel to India on the strength of any electronic visa obtained earlier.
“Consequently, the travel restrictions imposed by this ministry (on May 7) to above would not apply to any aircraft, ship, train or any other vehicle by which the above mentioned categories of foreign nationals may travel to India,” the home ministry order added.

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