April 16, 2021
Responding positively to demands from people of Indian origin in America and other countries, the Indian Government has announced a simpler process of maintaining Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards.
OCI cardholders will now be required to get their document re-issued only once at the age of 20 instead of multiple times needed to be done currently, according to the Indian Union Home Ministry.
OCI card enables easy travel for millions. The OCI card provides long term visa free travel and stay in India and gives the cardholders several benefits and privileges normally not given to a foreign national.
The previous provision of OCI card holders below 20 years of age and above 50 years of age requiring to re-apply for a fresh OCI card every time their passport was renewed was causing a lot of anxiety and confusions to many. Furthermore, it caused last minute travel disruptions due to inconsistent interpretations by airline staff and Indian immigration officers. Many people were turned back from boarding the flight at the last minute.
"With a view to facilitate the OCI cardholders, it has now been decided by the Government of India to dispense with this requirement," the Union Home Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
A person who has got registration as OCI cardholder prior to attaining the age of 20 years will have to get the OCI card re-issued only once when a new passport is issued after his/her completing 20 years of age, so as to capture his/ her facial features on attaining adulthood.
If a person has obtained registration as OCI cardholder after attaining the age of 20 years, there will be no requirement of re-issue of OCI card.
"With a view to update the data regarding new passports obtained by the OCI cardholder, it has been decided that he/she shall upload a copy of the new passport containing his/her photo and also a latest photo on the online OCI portal, each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age. These documents may be uploaded by the OCI cardholder within 3 months of receipt of the new passport,” the government statement said.
Overseas Indian organizations are continuing to push for greater recognition for OCI cardholders who have invested in businesses and are creating jobs in India. These folks need to be treated on par with Indian citizens and not categorized as foreign nationals. Let us hope for more positive steps.