The government of India on Friday allowed certain categories of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders to travel to India. These include minor children born to Indian nationals abroad who hold OCI cards; those who want to travel for family emergencies and university students who are OCI card holders but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India.
The announcement was made by the ministry of home affairs on Friday, and it comes close on the heels of the country widening its expatriates’ extraction programme called Vande Bharat Mission to the third phase. In the second phase, which started on May 16, India in a special operation, is bringing back around 32,000 citizens on more than 160 flights from 47 countries .
The home ministry order partially resolves issues raised by hundreds of thousands of people whose visas were suspended following imposition of restrictions on international travel in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. .
According to the order,” It is now been decided to permit the following categories of Overseas Citizens of India cardholders who are stranded abroad.
1) Minor children holding born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards
2) OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like death in the family.
3) Couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the others is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India.
4) University students who are OCI cardholders (not legally minors) but whose parents are Indian Citizens living in India.”
With this move, the multiple-entry life-long visas given to OCI card holders has also been restored which was temporarily suspended due to the travel restrictions.
OCI cardholders were among several categories of people who have been eagerly awaiting permission to travel to the country. 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 card holders could be entertained. In line with the thinking, only those categories with an immediate need to travel have been picked from among the OCI card holders.
According to the government data, close to 200,000 Indian nationals have registered with the foreign affairs ministry seeking to return to the country and the government is prioritizing travel of those with compelling reasons like people who had lost jobs overseas, pregnant women, and other people with medical emergencies.