India urged to extend renewal date of OCI card till Dec 31

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WASHINGTON: In view
of the inconvenience faced by the diaspora having
OCI
card in the US, an eminent Indian-American social activist has
urged the Government
of
India
to
extend the
date
of its
renewal
till December
31.

The Overseas Citizen
of
India (
OCI)
card, among other benefits, allows multiple entry, multi-purpose life long visa
to an Indian-origin foreign national
to visit
India.

In December, the Ministry
of Home Affairs’ Foreigners Division issued an office memorandum directing the relevant government agencies and airlines that Overseas Citizen
Of
India (
OCI)
card holders not between 20 and 50 years
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.

They were given time
till June 30
to renew their
OCI
card.

But now, based on the feedback that he has been receiving from Indian-Americans and the diaspora community, Indian-American Prem Bhandari said that June 30 is not enough as it needs a massive awareness campaign on part
of the Indian government.

“My humble request
to you is
to
extend the
date
of
renewal
of
OCI cards
till December
31, 2020 such that the Non-Resident Indian/Person
of Indian Origin community had enough time
to understand the new requirement and renew their
OCI cards,” New York-based Bhandari, who last year took up the matter, said in a latest communique
to the Indian government this week.

Bhandari, who heads Jaipur Foot USA, has sent his communique
to the External Affairs Ministry and other relevant ministries including the civil aviation and home affairs.

“This will give ample time
to the Indian diaspora
to renew their
OCI cards and facilitate a pleasurable visit
to
India,” he told PTI.

This week, the Indian Consulate in New York and other Indian diplomatic missions issued a clarification on the
OCI
renewal.

“As you are aware with the advisory issued by the Ministry
of Home Affairs and the Ministry
of Civil Aviation
to airlines, overseas Indians and PIOs have been facing great difficulties in travelling
to
India during the busy holiday season in December 2019 and January 2020,” the letter said.

“As many did not have updated
OCI cards or were not carrying their old passports, they were stopped by airlines from boarding. We are grateful
to the Ministry
of External Affairs and the Ministry
of Home Affairs for granting assistance and for helping people
to travel
to
India without their old passports and extending the
date
of
renewal
of
OCI
to June 30, 2020. This has considerably ameliorated the situation,” Bhandari said in the letter.

However, many Indian-origin travellers faced difficulties at airports in boarding as airlines frequently misinterpret the rules or are inflexible although Indian Immigration has been allowing people
to enter the country without new
OCI cards or even without old Passports, he said.

“You are aware that a large number
of
OCI cards have been issued and it is not possible for everyone
to be aware
of the rules. Many a times I have intervened
to get people
to board aircraft by using personal influence. Several times, I have sought the help
of Consulate in New York
to help the people
to board,” Bhandari continued.

Although the Government
of
India and Consulates are trying the best
to diffuse and disseminate this information regarding
renewal
of
OCI, many people still remain unaware and “we are hearing daily horror stories,” he said.

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 the renewable
of
OCI
card too.

“For all practical purposes,
OCI
card is not a multipurpose life-long visa, as it has been billed by the government.
To clear the confusion, it is important that the government, immediately, say that it is not a multipurpose life-long visa and then take steps
to fix the loopholes in this regard,” Bhandari had said last year.

He had raised the issue last year also with then
India‘s ambassador
to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla and secretary
of Ministry
of Civil Aviation Pradeep Singh Kharola. Both
of them, Bhandari said, were instrumental in coming
to the rescue
of the Indian diaspora.





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