Visa, travel curbs relaxed for limited category of OCIs

Front page of OCI Registration Certificate | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons  

Visa and travel restrictions were relaxed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday for a limited category of stranded Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders to come to the country.

Also read: COVID-19 | All visas, OCI cards for foreign nationals outside India remain suspended

The life-long visa to OCIs was temporarily suspended in March in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first lockdown that began on March 24 and ended on April 14 has seen three extensions. The current phase ends on May 31.

Several OCIs said they felt discriminated as it stopped them from flying to India on the special flights being arranged by the government under the Vande Bharat scheme.

The categories allowed by the MHA on Friday include minors born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards, those who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like death in family, couples where one spouse is a cardholder and the other is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India and university students who are cardholders (not legally minors) but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India.

Also read | What is an OCI card and how to apply for it?

On May 7, the MHA issued an order prohibiting international travel to and from 107 immigration check-posts until further orders. The travel restrictions would not apply to any aircraft, ship, train or any other vehicle deployed for bringing back the specific categories of OCI cardholders who are stranded abroad.

The OCI scheme, operational since December 2005, provides facilities like life-long visa, exemption from registration with Foreigners Regional Registration Office and parity with NRIs in economic, financial and educational fields except purchase of agricultural properties, political and public employment rights.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 2:49:00 PM |

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