New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday issued fresh Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the movement of Indian nationals stranded abroad, who now desire to return to India. The guidelines released today also had SOPs for the movement of those who were left stranded in India and now desire to travel abroad. Also Read - Vande Bharat Mission 2.0 From May 16, Say Sources as Evacuation of 6,037 Stranded Indians Complete

In order to facilitate their return home, Indian nationals stranded abroad are to follow the following SOPs: Also Read - Message For All States to be Extremely Alert, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Says After Kerala Imports 2 COVID-19 Cases Through Vande Bharat Mission

(1.) They need to register themselves with the Indian mission in the country they are stranded in, and give necessary details as prescribed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA); Also Read - Vande Bharat Mission: 1st Flight Carrying Stranded Indians From Abu Dhabi Returns, Repatriation From Singapore to Start Today

(2.) They will travel to Indian in non-scheduled commercial flights allowed by the Civil Aviation Ministry and in ships as allowed by the Department of Military Affairs/Ministry of Shipping; these will be operated by only those crew and staff, who have tested negative for COVID-19;

(3.) Priority will be given to those in distress, including laid-off migrant workers, short-term visa holders facing visa expiry, pregnant women, elderly, those with medical emergency or bereavement, and students;

(4.) The returnees will have to pay for their journey back to India;

(5.) Based on the registrations received, the MEA will prepare flight/ship-wise database of all such travellers and share it with respective states and union territories (UTs);

(6.) MEA will designate nodal officers for states/UTs to coordinate with their counterparts from various states/UTs;

(7.) MEA will display the schedule of the journey at least two days before the day of journey, on its digital platform;

(8.) The travellers will have to sign an undertaking that they are making their journey at their own risk;

(9.) Those travelling via land borders will follow all the aforementioned rules and only those found asymptomatic will be allowed to enter India;

(10.) Finally, on arrival, guidelines for international travel, issued by the Health Ministry and dated May 24, 2020, will be followed.

Notably, India is carrying out ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to repatriate its citizens from abroad. The exercise is currently in its second phase, which began on May 16 and is scheduled to end June 13. The first phase of the exercise was held from May 7-14.

Thus far, while over 2.5 lakh Indian nationals have registered themselves, over 23,000 have been brought back to India,