New Delhi, May 22: Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday lifted the restrictions over Visa and Travel of certain categories of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders, who are stranded abroad due to the lockdown and want to come back to India.
These restrictions were imposed due to the COVID -19. Following categories of OCI Cardholders stranded abroad, have been permitted to come to India:-
- Minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards.
- OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like a death in the family.
- Couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India.
- University students who are OCI cardholders (not legally minors) but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India.
Categories of OCI cardholders stranded abroad can come to India via aircraft, ship, train, or any other designated vehicle during the lockdown.
The home ministry order partially resolves issues raised by hundreds of thousands of people whose visas were suspended following the imposition of restrictions on international travel in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The government had suspended the visa-free entry facility granted to OCI cardholders due to the COVID-19 outbreak in march and on May 6 the ministry had announced that it has kept in abeyance multiple-entry life-long visas given to OCI cardholders till the resumption of international travel.
As per the latest annual report of MEA, more than 34 lakh OCI cards have been issued. The OCI card system was launched in August 2005. The OCI card is issued to people of Indian origin, allowing them visa-free travel in most cases. It also confers certain privileges comparable to those given to citizens, except for buying agricultural land, voting, standing for elections, and working in the government.
The government officials had earlier this month indicated that their first priority was to meet the minimum expectations of Indian nationals stranded abroad before requests from OCI cardholders could be entertained.
More than 27,000 standard Indians have been repatriated from dozens of countries under the government's special operation, called “Vande Bharat Mission”. According to the source, nearly 200,000 Indian standard citizens have registered with the foreign affairs ministry seeking to return to the country.