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“Relief”: OCI Card Holders Won’t Need Old Passports Now For India Travel

An OCI card permits a visa-free journey to India. (Representational)

Washington:

People of Indian-origin having the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) playing cards at the moment are not required to hold their outdated, expired passports for journey to India, as required earlier, in line with a authorities notification that has been welcomed by members of the neighborhood.

The Overseas Citizens of India or OCI card is issued to folks of Indian origin globally which provides them nearly all of the privileges of an Indian nationwide aside from the fitting to vote, authorities service and shopping for agricultural land. The OCI card provides them a visa free journey to India.

In a March 26 press assertion, the Indian missions within the US stated that with a purpose to ease the journey of OCI card holders, it has been determined that the “time line for re-issuance of OCI cards in r/o OCI card holders, who may be required to get their OCI card reissued has been extended until 31 December, 2021.”

Further “requirement of carrying old and new passports along with the OCI card has been done away. Henceforth, the OCI card holders travelling on the strength of their existing OCI card bearing old passport number are not required to carry their old passport. However, carrying a new passport is mandatory.”

New York-based social activist Prem Bhandari, who has been taking over the reason for OCI card holders for the previous a number of years, welcomed the announcement. He expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs and the Government of India for not solely extending the renewal as much as December 31 this 12 months but additionally for enjoyable the rules and never requiring OCI card holders to hold their outdated, expired international passports.

“The OCI card holders can heave a sigh of relief worldwide,” with these new pointers, he stated. He expressed due to Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla for the brand new pointers.

Mr Bhandari stated that he had seen first-hand the inconvenience prompted to members of the Indian neighborhood resulting from sure OCI card guidelines as they undertook journey to India throughout the pandemic.

He stated a few of the passengers weren’t allowed to board flights to India and had been despatched again from airports as they weren’t carrying their outdated international passports, which was required as per authorities guidelines.

The OCI card, amongst different advantages, permits a number of entry, multi-purpose life lengthy visa to an Indian-origin international nationwide to go to India. Under the provisions of the OCI card, which provides the cardholder lifelong visa to India, these beneath 20 years and above 50 years have to renew their OCI card each time they’ve their passport renewed.

The Indian authorities has relaxed the provisions since final 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The timeline has been prolonged a number of instances thus far. However, that is for the primary time that the rules have been relaxed for carrying outdated passports and the brand new passports together with the OCI playing cards for abroad Indians.

In May final 12 months, the central authorities had allowed sure classes of OCI card holders, who had been stranded overseas, to come back to the nation. Earlier, in line with the rules issued by the Indian authorities, visas of international nationals and OCI playing cards had been suspended as a part of the brand new worldwide journey restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic.

OCI cardholders had been requested to hold their outdated passport with them to fly to India. Now, beneath the brand new provisions, OCI cardholders usually are not required to hold their outdated passports however will nonetheless want to hold their new passport.

Mr Bhandari stated that Ministry of Home Affairs pointers for OCI card holders to hold outdated expired international passports had been in place since 2005 however until 2019, it was not being totally checked or utilized.

Mr Bhandari had beforehand additionally requested Indian authorities to provoke measures equivalent to granting emergency visas on departure to assist Indian-origin households journey to their homeland for well being or different emergencies amid the COVID19 pandemic.

Bhandari, Jaipur Foot USA Chairman, had stated that late final 12 months he had written to the Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, in addition to the Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola and Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla outlining a few of the hardships confronted by Indian-origin households in travelling to India for emergency causes and suggesting measures that may be taken to make sure smoother journey for these households.

Bhandari had instructed that holders of Indian passport/PIO/OCI card be allowed to journey with their US-born minor youngsters beneath the age of 14 with any unexpired visa obtained anytime with out making use of for an emergency visa at consulates.

He added that in case it’s troublesome to hold out these measures, authorities could take into account both granting Emergency Visa on Departure (E-VoD) or restoring speedy e-Visa course of for approval on-line.

Last 12 months, Bhandari had additionally requested extension of the date of renewal of OCI playing cards until December 31, 2020 such that the Non-Resident Indian/Person of Indian Origin neighborhood had sufficient time to grasp the brand new requirement and renew their OCI playing cards.

Bhandari additionally expressed hope that the difficulty of vacationer visas may even be resolved quickly. In October final 12 months, the Indian authorities had determined to revive with speedy impact the validity of all current visas, besides digital, vacationer and medical class visas.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)

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