Government Issues Guidelines For Movement Of Indian Nationals Stranded Abroad

Guidelines For Movement Of Indian Nationals Stranded Abroad



This Blog is written by Anamika Singh from KIIT School of Law, OdishaEdited by Prakriti Dadsena.



Home Ministry has issued Standard Operating Procedure – SOP for movement of Indian nationals stranded outside the country and also for persons stranded in India who are desirous to travel abroad for urgent reasons. As per the SOPs, the priority will be given for travel from abroad to compelling cases in distress, including migrant workers who have been laid off. People faced with an expiry of short term visas, those with a medical emergency, pregnant women, and elderly will also be given priority. The cost of travel will be borne by travelers. Priority will be given to compelling cases in distress, including migrant workers/ laborers who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with an expiry of visas, persons with medical emergency/ pregnant women/ elderly, those required to return to India due to death of a family member, and students. Now this operation was conducted due to the dangerous pandemic COVID-19 which was known as coronavirus – 2019 spreading all across the worldwide. Though lockdown has been imposed by the government so that it could help in decreasing the effect of the disease. As per the report, it has been updated that a total of 67, 14,335 were affected around the globe, out of which 3, 93,408 were dead. Where India has 2, 27,029 case-patients and 6,363 patients were dead. This is the most crucial period to overcome this pandemic for all of them in this world.


As the government announced a detailed proposal to phase-in the return of abroad Indians from May 7, the Home Ministry today released Standard Operating Protocols for the movement of internationally stranded Indian citizens and individuals in India willing, for urgent reasons, to travel abroad.

For the evacuation of more than 14,000 Indian citizens in 13 foreign countries on 64 flights during Week 1 of the operation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prepared a chart.

Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for movement of Indian Nationals stranded outside the country-

  • Such citizens shall register for themselves, along with required information, as specified by MEA, with the Indian Missions in the country in which they are stranded.
  • The flights will be arranged to India by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) by non-scheduled commercial flights; and, the ships will be arranged by the Ministry of Military Affairs (DMA). Such flights/ships will only be permitted to work by crews and staff who are screened negative by COVID-19. [1]
  • Attention should be paid to convincing cases of hardship include migrant / laboring workers who have been laid off, short-term visa holders facing visa expiry, medical emergency / pregnant/elderly people, family member deaths, and graduates.
  • The travel costs shall be borne by these travelers, as specified in the MOCA DMA.
  • Upon registration, MEA will prepare a wise flight/ship database for all travelers including the name, age, gender, cell phone number, place of residence, destination, and RT-PCR test information and the results. The database is shared in advance between MEA and the corresponding state / UT. [2]
  • The MEA shall appoint wise State / UT nodal officers to coordinate with the nodal officers appointed by the respective States / UTS for this purpose.
  • The MEA shows the time of arrival of the incoming flight/ship, on its online digital platform, with at least two days’ notice.
  • All travelers undertake to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine, at their own expense, for a total of 14 days before boarding.
  • All passengers must also provide a company that they undertake their own journey at their own risk.
  • MEA facilitates thermal screening in accordance with the health protocols at the time of boarding flight/ship. The flight/ship may only be boarded by asymptomatic passengers.
  • Passengers who cross the land border do have to follow the same procedure as above and only asymptomatic passengers who are allowed to cross the Indian boundary.
  • All travelers entering at any point of entry (i.e. ground, sea, or airports, and copies are issued in advance to Health and Immigration Officials who are present in the airport, seaport/field) with the self-declaration form (including personal details and health) in a duplicate.
  • The MOCA / DMA safety policy is specifically followed while onboard a flight plane. The following measures should be applied to airlines/boats, crew and all passengers: wearing masks, environmental hygiene, respirable hygiene, hand hygiene, etc.
  • All passengers must be told on their mobile devices to access the Arogya Setu app.
  • The passengers identified as symptomatic shall be taken to the treatment facilities in compliance with the safety protocol immediately after screening.
  • The remaining passengers will be transferred to suitable quarantine facilities by the respective States / UT Governments to be arranged. In the local headquarters of the district of which incoming passengers are citizens, these services may be as distant as possible.
  • These travelers are held for a fixed duration of 14 days under administrative quarantine.
  • Unless after 14 days, the negative checks are approved and their safety auto-monitoring is carried out for another 14 days according to the protocol. The rest of the people are shifted by the State / UT Government to the medical facility. [3]


Though it’s a relief for all students, migrants’ workers, and other people, the citizen of India who were stuck outside their countries and are not being able to survive during this period, as there is highly decrease in financial and economic activities all over the world. But these facilities are not enough for all the people to return back to their respective places like. A large number of universities in the US have shut their regular classes and students, many of them are also OCI cardholder wants to return to home. And even the Indian passport holders are also running to come back to India as they were expecting that due to this situation the flight operation might get be canceled or suspended due to ban. Not only this but also a large number of people of Indian nationals, who have gone abroad to meet their friends or relatives or any kind of business work on a short trips were also rushing to get back to India. Which led to an increase in demand for the flights. As per the Air India executives that the visa curbs could affect operations. Then the senior executive at the national carrier has decided to reduce flight frequency to Madrid, Paris, and Frankfurt. However, more than 80% of Air India’s passengers are Indian nationals. whereas Foreign airlines operating in and out of India have 40 -60 % mix of Indian and foreigner passport holder but they may not cancel the flights as the fact is considering the situation with others India has a least no. Of coronavirus cases and foreign airlines resort to the reduction in capacity by operating smaller aircraft or reduce the number of frequencies. But it gives a bad impact on India. Number Of increase in population the more it increases the point of danger. Places to be considered to keep all the returnees on 14 days of quarantine, the more care has to be taken. This increases the number of cases in India.


Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha & Ors vs. Union of India & Ors [4]

It is submitted that the existing mechanism/procedure for verification of nationality inter alia includes that State Government provides details of a declared person in a prescribed format indicating full details/contact address in Bangladesh including photographs to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Such cases received from the State Government are referred to the Ministry of External Affairs for taking up the matter of verification of nationality with Bangladesh authorities through the diplomatic channels. The Ministry of External Affairs refers such cases to Bangladesh authorities. Such cases are investigated by the Bangladesh Home Ministry and they send their report to Bangladesh Foreign Ministry. In turn, they intimate the Indian Ministry of External Affairs about the nationality verification or status of such persons. If some of the cases are not confirmed by them, in that event we request the Bangladesh authorities from the Bangladesh High Commission or Deputy High Commissions in Kolkata or Mumbai, as the case may be, to avail of consular access for interaction with such detained persons. The Bangladesh authorities depute their representative for interaction with such persons who are detained in detention centers/jails. It is mentioned that many of the declared illegal migrants do not disclose their addresses, contacts of their relatives in Bangladesh. In such cases, it becomes very difficult for Bangladesh authorities for verification of nationality of these persons. In the current years, the nationality of 32 Bangladeshi nationals who were in the detention centers/jails in Assam were confirmed by the Bangladesh authorities and they have been repatriated.”

Director Transport Department vs. Mr. Abhinav Dipakbhai Patel [5]

On behalf of the Appellants, it was submitted before the High Court that a policy was framed by the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli on 01.09.2006 by which it was decided that the local candidates from open category had to provide ‘Domicile’ certificate. Insofar as the reserved categories are concerned, only local candidates would be considered. The said policy was modified on 26.12.2013 only in respect of ‘Domicile’ relating to open category candidates. It was also contended on behalf of the Appellants that there can be no difference between migrants of the Scheduled Tribe from one State to another and from one State to a Union Territory. As there was a separate Presidential Order issued for notifying the Scheduled Tribes in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, migrants cannot claim the benefit of reservation in the Union Territory. While referring to the weightage given to local candidates, the Appellants submitted that 20 marks were given for local candidates in the selection process which applies equally to the open category and the reserved category candidates. However, the Appellants maintained that the benefit of reservation under the Scheduled Tribes category was restricted only to local candidates and not migrants.


Government issued several guidelines which should be followed strictly by the people but several people are not taking it seriously and many because of their poor condition they are not able to follow the rules and regulations. As per my point of view the government should make such terms and conditions so that all poor and rich people can follow that without suffering from any critical problem such as financial issues and health issues, etc.


The purpose of the study is to examine the economic condition of migrant workers in the country. While existing studies provide evidence for short-distance migration to Kerala from nearby states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, our study provides evidence for long-distance migration from states like West Bengal and Assam in recent years. We observe that informal information networks through migrant workers play an important role in the migration of workers from one place to another. Poor economic conditions in the native place and high wage rate and better employment opportunities, along with several other overlapping factors have been identified as the main reasons for the migration of people. Though there is barely any change in the nature of employment of the migrants even after migration, there has been a shift from the low-income brackets before migration to high-income brackets after migration. Notwithstanding the improved income level, the living condition for most of them is deplorable, most of them live together in either poor rented houses or work sites with one room shared by many, without proper provision of hygienic sanitation. [6]





[4] Writ Petition (Civil) No. 562 Of 2012 [5] (Civil) No. 16421 of 2017


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