New York: Indian Consulate officials have addressed concerns expressed and shared on various media platforms in the United States about the recent changes to rules relating to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card-holders.
In a March 11 virtual meeting, Consul General in New York, Randhir Kumar Jaiswal, assured leaders of various community organizations that there were no major changes announced during the recent OCI notification by the Indian Government.
“None of the elements in the proclamation is new. All past notifications are put together,” he said, adding, the only new phenomenon is that buying and selling of farmhouses has been added to the list because of its misuse.
On the OCIs being described as “foreign nationals”, Amb. Jaiswal said, “You will be treated as NRIs. The new laws do not change your status. If there is any particular concern, please contact us and we will address your concerns.”
Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman Emeritus of GOPIO, highlighted the concerns of many OCIs who have established successful businesses in India because the new directive asks companies doing technology and other research needing special permission from the government. That will lead to their ideas getting divulged to their competitors, he said.
To another question, the Ambassador said, “Rules for foreign nationals will apply to all naturalized citizens in the US.” He reiterated the government position that RBI permission is needed to buy and sell properties in India. On dual citizenship, he said, “OCI card stays as a connection. No further plan at this time regarding dual citizenship for people of Indian origin.”
For OCI cardholders now, entry fees to be charged for visiting national parks and monuments, historical sites and museums in India and tariffs in airfares in domestic sectors in the country shall be at par with Indian nationals.
Participants at the March 11 interactive session included various chapters of GOPIO as well as NFIA, FIA (Ohio), India Association of Greater Boston, Indian Diamond and Color Stone Association, Indian American Forum for Political Education, Society of Indian American Engineers and Architects, National Indian American Association for Senior Citizens.
Apart from OCI, other issues discussed at the meeting included the impact of the pandemic on the Indian community in the tri-state, raised by Sudha Acharya, executive director of South Asian Council for Social Services.
Amb. Jaiswal talked about India-US relations, “We have bipartisan support in the Congress. Our relationship continues to flourish and prosper when either party in the US is in power.” On Consular services, he said, as of now, the business visas and the employment visas by India have been restored. However, Tourist visa stands suspended. The Ambassador also assured the community that when the pandemic subsides, the Consulate will organize Visa Camps, allowing people to obtain visas from their hometowns.
Ambassador Jaiswal was joined at the meeting by Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha and other top ranking officials from the Consulate. Sinha, while praising the Indian-American community said, “The Indian Diaspora is the strongest pillar of India’s outreach to the world. OCIs are in par with Indian citizens. Rules remain the same and not much has changed. Don’t go by the media; many voiced concerns due to misconceived notions.”