Why in news?

  • Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA), on 28.03.2020, had granted consular services on gratis basis to foreign nationals, presently residing in India due to travel restrictions in the context of COVID-19 outbreak, till 30th April, 2020.
  • After considering the matter, it has been decided to extend the period of providing the following consular services by the Office of Foreigners Regional Registration Officers/ Foreigners Registration Officers to foreign nationals, presently stranded in India.
  • In the wake of continuing COVID-19 outbreak in the country, Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to extend the suspension of all existing visas granted to foreigners, except to those belonging to diplomatic, official, UN/international organizations, employment and project categories, till 3rd May, 2020.

What are consular services?

  • Consular assistance is help and advice provided by the diplomatic agents of a country to citizens of that country who are living or traveling overseas.
  • The diplomats may be honorary consuls, or members of the country’s diplomatic service.
  • Diplomatic service is the body of diplomats and foreign policy officers maintained by the government of a country to communicate with the governments of other countries.
  • Diplomatic personnel obtains diplomatic immunity when they are accredited to other countries.
  • Diplomatic services are often part of the larger civil service and sometimes a constituent part of the foreign ministry.
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