The continuing pandemic of coronavirus has forced governments across the globe to take a firm stand on travel restriction in an effort to stop the further spread of COVID-19, especially to foreigners coming from other affected countries. However, India has further extended its earlier ban on arriving international passengers saying that it would not allow entry to even Indian passport holders residing in the United Kingdom, Turkey and European Union till 14th April 2020. The European Union consists of 27 countries spread across Europe, while the European free trade association consists of four members- Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. If you are one of the many Indian nationals stuck there currently because of the ban in this difficult situation, here is everything you need to know about the plan ahead.
Things to know if you get stuck in the EU due to Coronavirus
If your flight back home is cancelled due to coronavirus and you have entered the EU on a Schengen visa, there is no need to panic. You will not face penalties for overstaying on your Schengen visa during this time. If you are unable to leave before the expiration of your visa, you can simply apply for an extension on your current visa with the competent authorities from where you are located. This has been stated in Article 33 of the EU Visa Code:
“In case a visa holder who is already present on the territory of the Member States is unable to leave before the expiry of his visa for reasons of force majeure, humanitarian reasons or serious personal reasons, he should address the request for extension of the visa to the competent authorities of the Member State where he is present even if that is not the Member State whose consulate issued the visa.”
In the case of coronavirus, the situation falls under force majeure, which is a last-minute change of flight schedule by the airline due to reasons like weather conditions, strike etc. which are beyond their control. In such a case no penalty is charged to you. If you do extend your stay above the approved extension as well, you can still apply for a long-stay visa to cover your prolonged stay until you are able to depart the Member state and return back home safely. (Source: Schengen Visa Info)
Contacting your airline
If your flight is cancelled due to these reasons, you must contact your airline for a reschedule or try getting a refund. If you are a part of an organised tour, contact your travel agency to know the best way out for you as per the situation. While most insurance companies don’t cover coronavirus, you can get in touch with them to see if they can offer you any assistance for emergencies abroad.
As the COVID-19 diseases spreads more rapidly and widely, local governments around the world are taking measures to prevent the situation from getting worse. While the Indian government has currently put up a restriction till 14th April, uncertainty over future extensions looms largely over everyone stuck abroad. The best way for you to keep yourself updated with the next plan of action is to keep in touch with your local Indian Embassy and stay put wherever you are to remain safe.
It may seem like the worst situation to be in currently, however remember to stay put and remain connected with friends and family back home!
‘Curated by Neha Bhise’