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Holiday destinations for Indians in Covid times

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JUNE 21, 2021

Indians have been at the receiving end of the worst second phase of Covid-19. Most nations closing their borders to Indians after new variants emerged first from India which was reportedly more aggressive and lethal.

Slowly and steadily, after months of stringent travel restrictions for people from India, there are countries that have started to ease restrictions. There were only a few nations like Russia and Serbia that continued to welcome Indian visitors even during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis.

While some have announced opening their airspace for flights from India, there are conditions to be followed; for many other countries, entry from India is still based on privileged visas.

So, for those who intend to pack their bags and head to a foreign destination for a much-needed holiday — a Covid respite — here is a lowdown:

Russia

Russia has been open for Indian travellers. Some tour operators even offered vaccination trips to Russia and back along with a holiday package.

Passengers entering the Federation must have a printed negative Covid-19 PCR test result issued at most 72 hours before arrival.

There are also quarantine requirements since Moscow has been on lockdown because of rise in Covid cases. Self-isolation of seven days at home or hotel room.

Serbia

Though Serbia is open to Indian travellers, travelling to Belgrade and looking for flight options could be a tough ask.

Visitors must provide a negative RT-PCR test taken up to 48 hours before departure. Not applicable to passengers below the age of 12 years.

Egypt

Egypt has opened up to Indian travellers although flights could be difficult to find.

While Cairo and surrounding areas would not be a problem, reports suggest that restrictions continue to remain for tourists arriving in the coastal governorates of the Red Sea, South Sinai and Matrouh, to travel to other governorates in Egypt.

Travellers would have to present a negative RT-PCR test, no older than 72 hours and all arrivals are required to fill in a health declaration.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is open for Indians with a valid visa. While visas are being issued approved by the embassy, the mission advises against making visits to Kabul given the Covid situation in Afghanistan.

Arriving passengers do not need to carry an RT-PCR test certificate. However, they are urged to self-quarantine at home for 14 days upon arrival.

Mauritius

Mauritius will open to international travellers from July 15, 2021. During the first phase (July 15-September 30, 2021), vaccinated travellers will be permitted a resort holiday; a list of pre-approved Covid-19 safe resorts will be available from June 20, 2021, at www.mauritiusnow.com.

For Phase 2 (starting October 1, 2021), vaccinated travellers will be allowed entry without restrictions upon presentation of a negative RT-PCR test taken up to 72 hours before departure.

Travellers aged 18 and above must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. They must undergo an RT-PCR test between five and seven days before departure — only those with a negative result can enter the island nation. Travellers will also have to take an RT-PCR test on arrival at the airport in Mauritius and on day 7 and 14 of their resort holiday, as applicable. Unvaccinated travellers will be subject to 14 days in-room quarantine for both Phases 1 and 2 until further notice.

These were countries that individually announced or have decided to open up for Indian travellers.

VFS GLOBAL

However, according to VFS Global, the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, the updated list of countries easing restrictions or allowing and opening up for visa applications are divided in various categories. While most countries are still not allowing travellers, there are some that have started accepting visa applications for “all categories”. Others still are only allowing those within a certain category such as students, business, etc. or privilege visa holders like Golden visa, resident permits, long term visas etc.

“As per lockdown/curfew restrictions announced in some states in India, select VFS Global Visa Applications Centres are currently temporarily closed in certain cities. VFS Global works strictly in accordance with client government directives as well as guidelines from local state governments,” said a statement by VFS.

Adding, “Information about Visa Application Centres listed in the below table is as of 19 June 2021. As this information is fluid and being updated regularly, please visit the country-specific websites on www.vfsglobal.com for the most updated information. Real-time updates are also posted on our social media channels and the Covid-19 Customer Advisories page.”

The list is as follows:

All Visa Categories –

  • Belarus (Centres — Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai)
  • Croatia (Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)
  • Denmark — All categories — if applicants fall under worthy purpose can apply for a visa (Centres — Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kochi)
  • Lebanon (Centres — Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Kolkata)
  • South Africa (Centres — Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Kolkata)
  • Turkey (Centres — Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Chennai, Bengaluru and New Delhi)
  • UAE -DVPC (Centres — Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai)
  • United Kingdom (UK) is open to visa applications but ‘Visitor’ category can apply however the application will be on hold as long as India is on the Red List (Centres — New Delhi, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad and Chandigarh)
  • Ukraine (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Kolkata)

Pre-Approved cases by Embassy –

  • Austria (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)
  • Estonia (Centres – Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Delhi, Chennai)
  • Hungary (Centres – New Delhi)
  • Iceland (Centres – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad)
  • Ireland (Centres – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad)
  • Switzerland (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)

Certain Visa Categories –

Belgium

  • Seamen (with appointment) & pre-approved cases from the Embassy
  • Long Term- Work permit, Resident Permit and Student. (Jurisdiction applies) (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)

Canada

  • Open (effective June 21, 2021)
  • Students (Only Biometrics)

Cyprus

  • Family members of EU and Lithuanian citizens (C visa)
  • Resident Permit
  • Foreigners travelling for other essential purposes (eligibility to be confirmed by the Embassy for all categories) (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)

Dominican Republic

  • Residence, Work and Business visas, All visa categories in Delhi (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi)

France

  • Short-stay visa applications with prior approvals from Embassy
  • Students with pre-conditions
  • Visit our website for updated information (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata)

Germany

  • Pre-approved cases from Embassy, D visa stamping for Family reunion cases, attestation
  • Mumbai is accepting the applications for Students and Blue Card (Jurisdiction applies) (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)

Italy

  • North India- Business Visa, Attestation, Students and Seafarer
  • East India- Students, Sea Farers, Transit, Business, Family Reunion
  • West & South India
    • 1. Student and Seaman
    • Business Visa with Embassy pre-approval (Jurisdiction applies) (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)

Latvia

  • Pre-approved cases from the Embassy and D-visa (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kochi)

Lithuania

  • Family members of EU and Lithuania citizens (C visa)
  • Resident Permit
  • Foreigners travelling for other essential purposes (eligibility confirmed by the Embassy C and D visa (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata)

Luxembourg

  • Long Term and Pre-approved cases from Embassy (Centres – Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)

New Zealand

  • Long-stay and other categories (postal applications only) (Centres – New Delhi)

Norway

  • Visa Stamping only. All other are temporarily closed (Centres – New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad)

Poland

  • Long term only (Centres – Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi and Kolkata)

Portugal

  • Seafarer (with appointment), pre-approved cases from Embassy, Family reunion and attestation (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata)

South Korea

  • Long term only (Centres – New Delhi and Kolkata)

Sweden

  • Short stay category (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi)

**Please note, there is still an entry ban and therefore the customers needs to sign an information letter that states there is an entry ban and that most applications are refused

Thailand

  • VISA TR, STV and long stay non- OA, non-B (employment) and medical treatment (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi and Hyderabad)

The Netherlands

  • Only Seafarer, Diplomats, Humanitarian
  • Business cases with Embassies prior approvals
  • (Centres – Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru)

Refer to the website for more details.

USA

  • C1/D, F1, H1B, H4, J1, L1, M1 – These are basically student, work, business, spouse related visas
  • (Centres – Chandigarh, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Jalandhar (restarted from 17 June), Hyderabad

Single Entry Visas –

Malaysia

  • (Centres – Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad)

Temporarily Closed:

  • Australia
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • Georgia
  • Japan
  • Malta
  • Morocco
  • Slovenia
  • Bulgaria
  • Slovakia

Courtesy/Source: India Today

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