The holders of the Overseas Citizens of India or OCI cards, who are either below 20 years or above 50 years of age and have renewed their passports, can continue their travel to India till June 30, subject to them carrying both the old and new passports along with OCI card, according to an official notification issued on Tuesday. The move, welcomed by the Indian-Americans, comes after a large number of OCI card holders in the last few months complained that they were being subject to harassment by both the immigration authorities and airline officials in implementing a little-known provision of the OCI, which were not being enforced so far.
In the last several months, Indian diplomatic missions and eminent Indian-Americans were flooded with such complaints. In many cases OCI card holders had to cancel their trip to India or had to abruptly return mid-way from places like Dubai, and Singapore.
The Indian-Americans have complained that they were not aware that every time an OCI card holder below the age of 20 and above the age of 50 years renew their passport they have to apply for renewable of OCI card too. "No one knows about this provision. We were being told that OCI card is for life. This created massive inconvenience to many OCI card holders in particular those with children and senior citizens," said Indian-American Prem Bhandari, who recently took up the matter with Indian Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla and the Civil Aviation Ministry.
On Tuesday, the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry issued an office memorandum directing relevant government agencies and airlines that OCI card holders not between 20 and 50 year of age and who have renewed their passport can travel to India as long as they also have in their possession their old cancelled passport. "In case an OCI card holder" either below the age of 20 years or who has attained the age of 50 years have not got their OCI card re-issued after the renewable of their passports "may travel till June 30, 2020" subject to the condition that the OCI card holders carries old passport mentioned in the OCI card.
"This is a welcome relief for a large number of Indian-Americans and people of Indian origin," Bhandari said. The notification asserted that the instructions regarding re-issuance of OCI card on renewal of passport or on attaining the specified age is a requirement expected to be timely complied by OCI cardholders.