BEIJING: China has announced intentions to provide visas to Indian professionals and their families who have been stuck in India for more than two years as a result of Beijing’s harsh visa restrictions established in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Separately, China is reviewing the petitions of hundreds of Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities who have expressed a desire to return to their schools and universities.
After more than two years, the Chinese Embassy in India modified its COVID-19 visa policy on Monday to accept visa applications from foreign citizens and their accompanying family members seeking to return to China for the resumption of employment in all areas.
It is a huge relief for hundreds of Indian professionals and their families who have been stranded in India since 2020.
Last month, a group of Indian professionals in China requested External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to put pressure on Beijing to enable their trapped family to home.
In addition to Indians, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi stated that family members of Chinese nationals and foreigners with Chinese permanent residency permits who are travelling to China for family reunions or visiting relatives can apply for visas. Aside from Indians with Chinese wives, numerous Chinese personnel working for various firms were also trapped in India as a result of Beijing’s sweeping visa bans and airline cancellations.
Visas for tourist and private purposes, however, remain suspended, according to the Chinese Embassy notice.
After lengthy requests from India, China decided in April to allow the repatriation of “some” stranded Indian students and instructed the Indian Embassy here to gather information on the students who wanted to return.
According to previous estimates, around 23,000 Indian students, largely studying medicine in Chinese universities, are trapped in India after returning home after the coronavirus outbreak in China in December 2019. They were unable to return to China owing to limitations placed by the Chinese authorities to halt the spread of the disease. Over 12,000 Indian students are said to have indicated a desire to return, and their information has been given to the Chinese authorities for processing.
China has yet to develop a criterion for allowing students to return, since Beijing is hesitant to allow such a big number of individuals to return at once in light of the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in the nation.
While India is now able to get visas, China has yet to announce intentions to establish direct flights between the two nations.
Only diplomats between the two countries currently use the expensive third-country flight routes. However, China’s visa announcement has raised hopes that airline services between the two nations could restart shortly.
In recent months, China has allowed students from friendly nations such as Pakistan, Thailand, the Solomon Islands, and, most recently, Sri Lanka to return.