New Delhi: In a significant development, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday allowed foreign nationals with journalist visas to come to India along with their family members. Also Read - Major Relief For 410 Hindu Refugees Stranded In Pakistan: Centre Grants Extension in Their Special Visa

Issuing a notification, the MHA said that the decision has been taken after considering the need for further relaxation of visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign nationals who want to travel to India. Also Read - Centre's SOPs on Exams: Containment Zone Students Disallowed; Mask, Health Declaration Mandatory | Top Points

“Foreign nationals holding Journalist (J-1) visa and their dependents holding J-1X visa permitted to enter India. If they have J1 or J-1X visas, which are suspended, such visas stand restored with immediate effect. Fresh visas may be obtained if validity of such visas expired,” the MHA said in the notification. Also Read - Unlock 4 Commences Across India, States Ease Restrictions Outside Containment Zones | Roundup

The MHA further added that if the foreign nationals have J-1 or J-1X visas, which have been suspended, such visas shall stand restored with immediate effect to facilitate their entry into India.

However, the home ministry said if the validity of such visas has expired, they may obtain fresh J-1 or J-1X visas, as the case may be, from the Indian missions or posts concerned.

The notification also said it has also been decided that the existing restrictions on incoming passenger traffic into India through the immigration check posts will not apply in respect of these categories of foreign nationals.

However, in respect of quarantine and all other health and COVID-19 related matters, guidelines of the Ministry of Health shall be adhered to.

The government has already allowed Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders from the US, UK, German and France, with whom India has signed ‘air bubble’ arrangements, to visit India.

Other foreigners from these countries have also been allowed to avail Indian visa facility for business, medical and employment purposes.

The government has restricted travel of foreigners to India since March 25 when the coronavirus induced country-wide lockdown came into effect.

(With inputs from PTI)