With the Coronavirus pandemic still raging across countries and India and the USA ranking high in the number of infected cases, travel is still restricted. Currently only certain air bubble agreements between India and different countries allows for emergent travel. It is uncertain for how long this will continue and travelers should prepare for any unforeseen circumstances that might require emergency travel.
So, what does one do if there is an emergency? Can you get a visa on arrival? How can you get your Indian passport renewed? What to expect on arriving in India regarding quarantine regulations? Read on to get comprehensive answers for everything you will need in case you need to travel to India for a family emergency, especially during a pandemic.
Who Can Enter India During The Coronavirus Pandemic?
While regular international travel to India is still suspended until further notice, the Indian government is allowing international flights in a graded manner. Some visa categories like tourist, medical and electronic visas holders are still not permitted for foreign nationals to enter India.
The following are permitted to enter India now:
- Indian citizens/nationals who were stranded due to the pandemic and would like to return home
- Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders
- Foreign nationals wanting to visit India by air or sea through valid ports of entry including seaports immigration check posts and authorized airports.
- Foreign nationals who have a valid visa to India for medical treatment, conferences, employment, business, research, and educational purposes.
What You Should Know Before Boarding A Flight To India
- All travelers to submit a self- declaration form 72 hours before boarding flight. This can be done on an online portal at www.newdelhiairport.in or on www.airsuvidha.com
- On confirming a ticket to India, you will have to fill out two forms: Each will need contact details in the U.S. as well as in India as well as a formal declaration about quarantining for 14 days at home on arrival at the final destination.
- Several airlines now require a negative Covid test to board their flights. The RT-PCR test should be conducted in under 96 hours prior to the date of travel. This is now available in any pharmacy, PCP under your insurance, or walk in clinics set up by the county officials across states within the U.S.
- Only asymptomatic travelers will be allowed to board the flight to India.
- All travelers have to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine. Your hand will be stamped with the date of the quarantined period
- All travelers should wear a mask and/or face shield through the flight hours and in the airports.
- All travelers are expected to maintain proper social distancing
- While one meal will be provided, you are allowed to carry your own food and hygiene products like hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes.
- Download the Arogya Setu app on your mobile devices. This is a multi-lingual app that gives all incoming travelers information and direction about Covid testing and next steps.
- You are advised to carry at least Rs. 10,000 in cash when traveling to India.
Covid-19 Quarantine Requirements For India Travelers
14-day quarantine in India is mandatory upon arrival from a foreign country.
Only travelers with a negative Covid test can fly to India. Depending upon results of the medical screening done at the arrival airport, you could either quarantine in a government designated institution at the traveler’s expense or remain isolated at the traveler’s own home. Your quarantine dates are stamped on your hand on arrival to India.
All costs for the 14-day quarantine has to be met by the traveler.
Can You Be Exempted From Quarantine in India?
For an exemption from the 14-day quarantine, travelers may notate on the online portal and will receive a decision from the Indian government on the portal. This should be appealed for at least 72 hours prior to date of travel.
Exceptions to the institutional quarantine can be made by submitting a negative RT-PCR test. This should be submitted on the online portal from the Government of India and a copy shown on arrival at the arriving airport.
Apart from a negative Covid test, other reasons to be exempted from the institutional quarantine include situations of human distress, pregnancy, serious illness, and death in the family.
What to Expect On Arriving In India
- Upon arrival in India, all travelers will have to fill a self-declaration form regarding self-quarantine at home.
- They also have to sign up on the Arogya Setu app, a multi-lingual app that gives all incoming travelers information and direction about Covid testing and next steps.
- The airport protocols including customs procedures is rather long due to social distancing. You are advised to keep at least 8 hours between transiting flights.
- They will go through another medical screening on arrival to confirm symptoms. Thermal screening and temperature checks will be conducted at the departing airports as well.
- Depending upon the results of testing, each traveler will either be quarantined for 14 days or put on arrangements for onward travel.
- After the 14-day quarantine, a final medical screening will determine exit from quarantine and departure to home destination.
- If you are traveling further beyond a major airport, please ensure you have at least 8 hours transiting time between flights as customs and exit protocols take a longer time due to social distancing and limited international airports opened for air bubble flights.
India Passport & Visa Services During Covid-19 Pandemic
Question: What if my passport has expired and I need emergency passport renewal service?
Answer: Contact your local Indian Consulate to apply for an emergency renewal. You will need a list of documents for Indian passport renewal.
Question: My new U.S. born child might need a Visa to India for an immediate travel – where can I get it?
Answer: Anyone with an expired visa can apply to renew the visa or seek a new visa for India. THIS is what you need to get an Indian visa for your child.
Question: I am a U.S. citizen and need to travel to India – what are my options to travel?
Answer: All foreign nationals traveling to India on business, for symposiums & conferences, education, or research can now apply for the respective visas and are eligible to travel.
Question: What do I need to get an e-visa on arrival in India
Answer: Read Details: e-Visa on Arrival In India
Question: Where can I get an Indian passport or visa for India in the U.S.?
Answer: In the U.S., CKGS, Indian government’s partner has declined the contract going forward. All applications are being forwarded to the local Indian Mission or post for processing until VFS takes over in November 2020.
To know how long it will take for your visa application to be processed, and who to contact to follow up on your application, read: CKGS Stops Issuing Indian Passports & Visas