EMBASSY OF INDIA STUDENT HUB
Travel during the pandemic
Travel & Phase V of Vande Bharat Mission
STEP I: Establish your eligibility
STEP III: Book directly with Air India
The Government of India will be facilitating the return of Indian nationals, who could not travel due to COVID-19 related international travel restrictions, based on compelling grounds in a phased manner. Non-scheduled commercial flights would be arranged for air travel by Air India on a payment-basis. Phase 5 begins on 1 August 2020.
All schedules and procedures are subject to changes. Continue to monitor ishubus.com/covid19 and the Embassy/Consulate websites and social media pages for more information. #StayPut #StaySafe
RESERVATIONS & CRITERIA
Criteria: Only those Indian nationals and OCI Cardholders* with compelling cases and registered with the Embassy/Consulates will be eligible to travel on Vande Bharat Mission special flights to India. You will need to fill and print this undertaking as certification.
Indian Nationals: https://indianembassyusa.gov.in/reg_indian_nationals.
With compelling cases such as those facing medical emergencies or requiring return due to bereavement in the family, students, pregnant women, elderly or those facing expiry of visas.
OCI Card Holders: https://indianembassyusa.gov.in/reg_oci_indian_nationals.
Minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards.
OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like death in family.
Couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India.
University students who are OCI cardholders (not legally minors) but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India.
[Note: The OCI cardholders falling into one of the categories mentioned above will not require any fresh emergency visa].
* Emergency visas may be issued/re-validated by the Embassy to non Indian nationals on a case by case basis.
The updated flight schedule for Phase-V is available on MEA website: https://mea.gov.in/phase-5.htm
Please note that this is a dynamic list and may undergo changes based on operational, technical and other considerations.
The cost of travel from designated airport in the USA to the designated airport in India will be borne by the passenger.
All passengers will be required to undergo medical screening before boarding the flight and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel.
All passengers will have to follow the protocols and procedures including health protocols issued by the Government of the USA on departure and by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Civil Aviation and other concerned authorities of Government of India before, during the journey and on arrival in India.
All passengers will be required to sign an Undertaking (Download Undertaking Form), which will be collected from them at the airport before boarding the flight.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
Read a previous press release for Indian Nationals here: https://indianembassyusa.gov.in/News?id=24965.
Read a previous press release for OCI card holders here: https://indianembassyusa.gov.in/News?id=24970
For more details and information regarding medical screening/quarantine requirements, please see Press Information Bureau circular: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1620953.
[UPDATED MAY 24 2020] Further information on Standard Operating Procedures on what to expect.
The Ministry of Home Affairs website, contains useful circulars and memorandums with relevant information.
For further details regarding S.O.P. and quarantine facilities, please visit this Ministry of Health & Family Welfare page.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR PHASE V
1. Do I need to register anywhere before I book with Air India?
Yes, you must register with the Embassy of India (if eligible) before you book with Air India. Only those who have registered and have compelling reasons as indicated above will be permitted to travel.
2. Will I receive a confirmation e-mail for my registration with the Embassy before I can book? Do I need a registration number?
You do not need to have a confirmation of registration with the Embassy. No registration numbers are issued. Once you have filled the registration form, you can book directly with Air India; confirmation e-mails are not sent.
3. Once I have registered, will I be contacted by the Embassy?
As long as you have registered on the Embassy website (for travel), you may book directly with Air India. You do not need to wait to hear from the Embassy before booking.
4. I have registered once. Do I need to register again for the current/future phases?
No, as long as you are eligible and have filled the correct form, you can book with Air India. You do not need to register again.
5. My circumstances have changed. Do I need to update the registration form before I book with Air India?
No, as long as you have registered and you have an eligible compelling reason, you may book with Air India and travel.
6. I am eligible and have registered. I am looking at the schedule of flights. Which flight can I book?
You may book any flight originating in the United States, from any airport, to any destination in India. After mandatory quarantine, you may take a connecting flight or arrange other means of travel to your final destination.
7. Will Air India accept my previously booked ticket for the travel by special flights?
You may contact Air India for refund or adjustments, if any, for previously booked tickets.
8. Where will I get the information related to flight schedules and cost involved?
Please see information on Air India website while booking.
9. Where do the passengers submit the filled-in & signed undertaking?
Passengers should submit filled-in & signed undertaking at the Air India counter at the Airport.
10. What is the criteria for selection of passengers?
Please establish yourself with criteria on this page, and if eligible book directly with Air India.
11. Is there any Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed on the flight and on arrival in India?
Yes. While on board the flight, the health protocol issued by Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India will have to be followed strictly. This would include wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene etc. to be observed by all passengers. On arrival in India, all passengers will be required to undergo thermal screening, as per health protocol at the airport.
12. How early do the passengers need to reach embarkation at the Airport for pre-boarding medical screening?
While issuing the ticket, Air India will inform the passenger of reporting time requirements.
13. If a passenger is medically tested in US, will he be tested again in India?
Yes. On arrival in India, all passengers will be required to undergo thermal screening, as per health protocol at the airport. The passengers found to be symptomatic will be immediately taken to medical facility as per health protocol.
The remaining passengers shall be taken to suitable institutional quarantine facilities, to be arranged by the respective State/ UT Governments. These passengers shall be kept under institutional quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days on payment basis. If they test negative after 14 days, they will be allowed to go home and will undertake self-monitoring of their health for 14 more days as per protocol. The remaining persons will be shifted to the medical facility by the State/ UT Government.
14. I am a resident of X State in India, will I be quarantined at the port of disembarkation or at a place nearer to my hometown?
International passengers will have to undergo mandatory quarantine where they arrive, i.e. their port of arrival as listed on their purchased Air India Phase III flight ticket. Then only they may proceed to the home state via travel arrangements made by them. Situation may vary by state, please check with AIr India and state governments.
15. Will I be given option to choose quarantine facility?
No. Concerned State/UT government will decide the quarantine facility. Depending on the state/UT you fly into, you may be given choices but these are at the discretion of the state/UT government and you will be informed upon landing in India.
16. What is the cost involved for this mandatory quarantine?
Quarantine facilities are arranged by concerned State/UT governments; hence, the type and cost of quarantine varies from state to state. Details can be found on state governments website.
17. What is the baggage allowance?
Standard baggage allowance rules of AI commercial flights are applicable to these flights also. Air India may be contacted for further details.
18. I am currently in India and looking to travel to the United States. Who may I contact?
Contact Air India for bookings. Criteria to travel is updated under Section II of this page (below).
19. How do I pay for this flight?
You will make your payment directly to Air India when booking.
20. What do I expect once I land?
When you land, you will be escorted from the aero-bridge straight to all medical screening, immigration checkpoints, customs, and baggage claim as needed. There will be complete facility and control rooms at airports and you will be given information of State/UT government chosen facilities (and any choices between government/private facilities and their prices) upon arrival. You will make payments upon arrival at the designated airport in India unless otherwise notified when the Embassy/Consulate or Air India contacts you.
This information is subject to changes and procedures are different at different airports based on State/UT government arrangements.
21. I am unable to access the Air India website or need additional information.
Please direct queries with the Air India website to Air India customer care or on their chat. Note that you may need to click the print button for an undertaking on Air India's website before you can book.
22. I was unable to get a seat on the flight I desired. What do I do?
Seats are limited and may be sold out. Air India's website indicates "sold out" or "unavailable" for flights that are full. We recommend you keep checking the Air India site to see if there is availability on your desired flight in the event of changes.
In addition, please continue to monitor Air India's website for additional flights. You may consider taking an alternative flight: note that you have the option of booking any flight from the US to India, with any departure or arrival airport offered. However, as stated above, you are responsible for booking your travel to the departure airport. In addition, if you arrive in a different state in India, you will be responsible for arranging travel to your final destination within India after your mandatory quarantine is complete.
If you need assistance with the Air India site, contact Air India. If you need further assistance on other matters, please contact the Peer Support Line.
23. Do I need any documentation to fly?
Please bring what documentation you normally would while taking an international flight with destination as India. You would not need a transit visa as the flights are direct between the United States and India (unless otherwise specified by Air India).
Make sure your passport is valid.
You will need to fill and print this undertaking as certification. Please have this printed with you when you reach the departure airport on the day of the flight.
24. The schedule on Air India's website has changed. What do I do?
Please contact Air India; flight schedules may vary due to the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Air India will be in touch with you if there is a change to your purchased flight.
25. After I arrive in India, will I be eligible to contact the Peer Support Line for further support if I am still a student and plan to return?
The Embassy of India Student Hub is committed to assisting all F-1, J-1, M-1 and other Indian diaspora students and scholars. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time with queries or to partner with us to co-create #NewIndia. If you have a compelling reason and choose to fly, we wish you safe travels. Register with us to continue to receive e-mails, participate in our virtual programs, and stay in touch.
26. How do I find out if additional flights are being announced within the current phase?
Please monitor the Air India website and Air India's social media accounts as announcements regarding changes to schedules or additions to flight rosters are made through their channels.
27. How do I find out if restrictions on flights are being revised?
Please continue to monitor official channels including the Embassy of India website/social media, Indian Government website/social media, and the Embassy of India Student Hub website/social media. You can direct questions to the Peer Support Line.
28. What do I do if I cannot fly the day of my flight?
Please contact Air India directly, as soon as possible.
29. I'm graduating this month or next month and there is no flight available for my date. How do I get home to India?
Air India has posted a schedule of flights on its website. Please continue to check for seat availability.
If your date of graduation/completion of program requirements is in the future and not covered under the current phase, please be patient and continue to monitor official channels. Updates on future travel will be highlighted as decisions are made.
31. I am a student who wishes to travel from the U.S. to India due to my program being online. What shall I do?
Please follow the three steps listed at the top of this page.
For step one, you are eligible as this is a valid reason. For step two, you can use 'student' as compelling reason on the travel registration form.
32. I am a student who wishes to travel from India to the U.S. as my program is now fully-online or hybrid. What shall I do?
Please contact Air India directly to make booking for flights originating in India or visit their website to book online. Students are informed, as stated in the 9 July 2020 Student Advisory, that they must confirm eligibility to travel with their DSO and receive a reissued annotated I-20 from their DSO before commencing travel.
33. I have booked my ticket to fly but am unsure whether I am eligible or am required to be in the U.S. for the Fall 2020 semester.
34. I require a refund, need to change, or have another question related to my ticket. May I call you?
Please reach out to Air India directly, as they are handling ticketing.
35. Will there be a Phase VI?
Continue to monitor official channels and check the Air India website for changes/additions to scheduled flights.
Criteria for OCI card holders / foreign nationals to travel to India
Current as of 28 June 2020
Please refer to this advisory, issued 14 June 2020, by the Embassy of India:
The Government of India has decided to permit the following categories of foreign nationals, including Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Cardholders, to enter India:
A. Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Cardholders
Minor children who hold OCI cards & whose parents are Indian nationals.
OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like critical medical conditions of immediate family members or death.
Married couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national.
Students who are OCI cardholders where at least one of their parents is an Indian citizen or an OCI cardholder.
B. Other foreign nationals
Foreign nationals who are minor children where at least one of their parents is an Indian citizen or an OCI cardholder.
Foreign nationals married to Indian citizens.
Foreign nationals who are single parents of minor children holding Indian passports or OCI cards.
Students who are foreign nationals where at least one of their parents is an Indian citizen or an OCI Cardholder.
Dependent family members of foreign diplomats and official/service passport holding service staff accredited to foreign diplomatic Missions, consular offices or accredited International Organizations in India.
Foreign nationals covered in sub-para B (i) to (v) above shall have to obtain a fresh visa of appropriate category from the Embassy of India, Washington DC or one of its Consulates in USA. Foreign nationals holding a valid long-term multiple entry visa of appropriate category issued by the Indian Embassy/Consulate shall have to get the visa re-validated from the Indian Embassy/Consulate concerned. Such foreign nationals will not be permitted to travel to India on the strength of any electronic visa obtained earlier. It is clarified that applicants with emergency visa issued since 13 March, 2020 by the Embassy of India, Washington DC or one of its Consulates in USA do not require re-validation of visa.
Read here for more information: https://indianembassyusa.gov.in/News?id=24983
Please continue to monitor official channels, including ishubus.com/covid19, your local Embassy/Consulate in the United States’ website, and our advisories, to receive the most up-to-date information. Information on this page is subject to change at any time. You can register here to get e-mail updates.