China eases visa ban in boost to Indian students

Obstacles remain for returning students including permission from their universities

Updated - August 23, 2022 10:22 am IST

Published - August 22, 2022 08:57 pm IST - Beijing

Photo used for representation purpose only. FIle

Photo used for representation purpose only. FIle | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

China announced on August 22, 2022 that Indian students will, starting August 24, be able to apply for visas to return to resume their studies, more than two years into the pandemic.

China’s Embassy in India, and in several other countries, issued updated procedures on Monday for visa applications, which included in its list of visa categories applications for newly-enrolled and returning students.

“Warmest congrats to Indian students! Your patience proves worthwhile,” Ji Rong, Counsellor at the Department of Asian Affairs in the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, said on Twitter. “Welcome back to China!”

There were more than 23,000 Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities as of 2019. China in November 2020 banned Indians from travelling citing the pandemic. In July, visa rules were finally eased to allow immediate family members to travel.

The resumption of issuing student visas is a significant step in enabling the return of thousands of Indian students, most in medical universities, who have been waiting for more than two years to resume their studies and attend the required practical training that will enable them to graduate.

However, some hurdles still remain. One obstacle for returning students is acquiring a “certificate of returning to campus” that is required for visa applications. Some universities in China are not issuing the letters citing the local epidemic situation in their provinces.

Travel to China is another. Direct flights from India to China are yet to resume while transit flights are selling at many times the cost of usual fares. China has been slowly increasing the number of international flights but continues to strictly regulate international travel as it follows a stringent “zero-COVID” policy. Inbound travellers are still required to quarantine, although the period has been reduced from 21 days to 10.

Students from Sri Lanka and Pakistan recently travelled to China on chartered flights. A group of more than 100 Indian businesspeople this month also chartered a flight on China Southern airlines to return to the trading hub of Yiwu. The Indian and Chinese governments have also been negotiating resuming direct flights which have been stopped for almost two years.

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