India has excluded Chinese nationals from China, Hong Kong and Macau from accessing electronic tourist visa (e-visa) facility, which will be restored next Monday. Tourists from Canada, United Kingdom, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia too have been excluded for lack of reciprocity. Citizens of Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and the US and 152 other countries will have access to e-visa facility for tourists.
The e-visa was earlier available to people of 171 countries, including China. The move to deny e-visa access to Chinese nationals assumes significance, given the standoff with the PLA in eastern Ladakh, apart from frequent PLA transgressions in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
India had relaxed prior referral category norms for Chinese tourists in 2015-16 and included them with those of 171 countries for obtaining e-visa. Apart from China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, foreigners of Pakistani origin and stateless persons were other countries under PRC. However, after the travel restrictions were announced in March 2020, following Covid-19 outbreak, all tourist e-visas were cancelled.
Later in August 2020, the government relaxed norms for international travel and allowed foreign nationals from the US, UK, Germany and France to travel to India under the air bubble scheme. Two months later, restrictions were further relaxed for all visas, except electronic, tourist and medical categories. Foreign nationals were, however, allowed for purposes such as business, conferences, employment, studies and research with health ministry’s protocol.
Under guidelines issued by MHA, existing e-visa and regular tourist visas issued prior to October 6 shall remain suspended. Fresh visas for single entry to be utilised within 120 days of issuance will be given.