Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday that students serve as bridges between India and the rest of the world and that the “highest priority” is being given to facilitating the travel of those who have been accepted for higher education abroad.
Seventeen European Union member states and Switzerland recognized the Covishield vaccine, and as a result, blanket travel bans against India were lifted, allowing students and other essential travelers into the country, he said. Shringla was speaking at the All-India Management Association on the topic of “Dismantling Barriers to Global Business and Travel in the Post-Vaccine World Order.” “Our response to the pandemic has clearly been marked by compassion, collaboration, and cooperation. It’s also crucial for breaking down barriers to global trade and travel,” he added. The foreign secretary stated that breaking down barriers to movement is critical for India, as its students travel all over the world to study. “Right now, our top priority is to make it easier for our students who have been accepted to various universities and colleges around the world to travel. These students serve as links between the United States and the rest of the world. We will make certain that they have access to comprehensive international education,” he said.
According to Shringla, India’s non-inclusion in the EU’s green pass framework was elevated, and fairness was sought in terms of travel restrictions exemptions for Indians vaccinated with Covishield and Covaxin vaccines, as well as the acknowledgment of vaccine documents issued through the Co-Win portal.
“I am pleased to report that, as a result of our efforts, 17 EU Member States and Switzerland have recognized Covishield and have lifted blanket travel bans from India, allowing students and other essential travelers to enter,” he said. “A number of countries have also decided to accept travelers who have been vaccinated with any of the country’s approved vaccines. Estonia and Romania are included in this group.
Shringla said that all major destination countries are now enabling Indian students to travel and are processing their visas on an immediate basis, referring to Western Europe. Travel restrictions for our students to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg are being eased, he said. According to Shringla, India works closely with the US administration on all issues relating to the mobility of Indian professionals, students, and others who need to travel to the US. “With the United States and Canada, the issue of travel restrictions has been raised at the ministerial level. Student visas are now being issued by the US Embassy, he said.
The issues of Indian students who are unable to commute to Australia have also been elevated with the Australian authorities, according to the foreign secretary. “We have emphasized the importance of these students returning to their campuses as soon as possible,” he said.
“We are also aware of the disruptions our students have experienced in obtaining visa appointments with some countries, and we have requested that foreign missions here raise visa slots and speed up visa processing,” he said.