Pandemic brings times of uncertainty for NRIs

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Uncertainty has prevailed over the return of thousands of non-resident Indians to their host countries, especially in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, following the COVID-19 induced travel restrictions.

The suspension of outgoing passenger traffic from India to the UAE that began on April 24 has been further extended until at least June 30. At present, only UAE nationals, golden residency visa holders and diplomats, who comply with the revised COVID-19 protocol will get the exemption from the travel ban.

Similar restrictions are in place in Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman and Kuwait. Previously, Bahrain and Qatar had some relaxations for entry of Indians into their countries. But now the emergence of new variants of the COVID-19 virus has prompted their governments to bring in restrictions on passengers from India except certain categories including their citizens.

Besides, GCC governments have also started warning desperate expatriates not to transit via Uzbekistan and Armenia to reach their destinations. Earlier, many have been taking the route via Uzbekistan after Nepal and Maldives banned their entry. However, such passengers then had to undergo a 14-day quarantine there before flying to their destinations.

Many have argued that travel restrictions should be lifted for those who are fully vaccinated. As of now, Qatar has exempted GCC nationals and those accompanying them from quarantine if they have received a full dose of one of the vaccines recognised by the Ministry of Public Health in Qatar more than 14 days prior to their arrival.

K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman of UAE-based Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, said that hundreds of resident permit visa holders had already taken both doses of vaccines either in the Gulf or in India. “This will enable non-resident Indians to return to their workplaces. Also, many have been stranded in Kerala and elsewhere in the country,” he said.

At the same time, many expatriates had taken their first jab in GCC countries. Now, they are distressed to return so as to complete the two-dose vaccination schedule.

Another complex issue facing the non-resident Indians is the expiry of visas. Many are seeking to extend the return visa after visiting their home towns for Eid holidays. “Hopefully, governments would come up with proactive measure for an extension of return visa like they had done in the previous year when many were stuck in India,” Mr. Shamsudheen said.

Last year, several GCC nations had decided to extend the validity of all visas, including visit visas, residency visas and entry permits. Incidentally, many resident visa holders are now extending their parents’ visit visa for another three months considering the COVID second wave in India.

Disclaimer: This post has not been edited by our staff and is published from a syndicated feed. The Original Source of this post can be found at Source link

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