Over 40,000 foreigners stay in India amid disruption to flight services after visa expiry in 2020

More than 40,000 foreigners stayed in India after their visas expired in 2020 when more than 32.79 lakh foreigners visited the country despite a prolonged period of nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Union Home Ministry statistics, the number of foreign nationals residing in the country after their visas expired in 2019 was 54,576 and in 2020 the number was 40,239.

Officials said overstaying in India beyond the visa date could lead to fines, up to five years in prison and even ban on re-entry.

Penalty for overstaying in India is nil for the first 15 days, Rs 10,000 if it is 16 days to 30 days, Rs 20,000 for overstaying 31 days to 90 days and Rs 50,000 for overstaying 90 days.

A total of 32,79,315 foreign nationals visited India between 1st April 2020 and 31st December 2020. According to Home Ministry data, the highest number of foreigners visiting India during this period was from the United States (61,190), followed by From Bangladesh (37,774), United Kingdom (33,323), Canada (13,707), Portugal (11,668) and Afghanistan (11,212).

A total of 8,438 German nationals, 8,353 French nationals, 7,163 Iraqi and 6,129 Republic of Korea nationals also visited India during the said period. In addition, 4,751 Pakistani nationals visited India in 2020. Between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, these countries accounted for more than 71 percent of the total foreign arrivals, while the rest accounted for about 29 percent. Total incoming foreign traffic.

A nationwide lockdown was first announced in India from 25 March to 21 April 2020 due to the coronavirus and was extended thrice till 31 May 2020. Although the government had announced a gradual reopening of various activities from June 2020, many restrictions continued. Remaining months of 2020.

Scheduled international flights from India to international destinations remain suspended for two years from 25 March 2020 to 27 March 2022. However, during this period, international flights were operated only under “air bubble” arrangements.

There were also visa restrictions on foreigners traveling to India after the COVID-19 outbreak. However, with India opening up in a phased manner, the central government had started issuing visas and lifted travel restrictions in a phased manner from May 2020.

In this direction, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued orders on 21 October 2020 allowing certain categories of foreign nationals to enter India through waterways or flights including the Vande Bharat Mission or ‘Air Bubble’ ( Round-trip air travel arrangements) are covered under the scheme. By any non-scheduled commercial flights as permitted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Those allowed include Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders holding passports from any country. All foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose (including their dependents on the appropriate visa category), except for tourist visas.

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