Over 4.75 lakh Indians have returned to India from abroad after the government launched the Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of External Affairs said. The Vande Bharat Mission entered its fourth phase from Thursday onwards. Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, "As on July 1, against a total number of 5,83,109 people who registered their requests with our missions abroad for repatriation to India, over 4,75,000 have returned under this mission."
This number includes more than 90,000 Indians who have returned through land border immigration checkpoints from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, he said. The list of flights that will be part of the fourth phase of the mission are available on the ministry's website and are being updated regularly, Srivastava said.
"Under Phase-IV of the Vande Bharat Mission, we will be operating more than 500 flights. This includes both Air India and private carriers who are ramping up their operations in a big way," he said. Asked about the H1-B visa issue, the MEA spokesperson said, "The people to people linkages and the trade and economic cooperation, especially in the technology and innovation sectors, is an important dimension of the US-india partnership."
"It is in this context that we have taken up this issue with the US side and we remain engaged with them," Srivastava said. On June 23, in a huge blow to Indian IT professionals eyeing the US job market, the Trump administration suspended the H-1B visas along with other types of foreign work visas until the end of 2020 to protect American workers in a crucial election year.