New Delhi: In a major relief to the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders stranded abroad, the Ministry of Home Affairs eased visa and travel restrictions imposed during coronavirus lockdown for certain categories.
The move came after Indian-Americans holding OCI cards voiced frustration over the government’s temporary hold on long-term visas.
The MHA Spokesperson in a tweet said, “Relaxing visa and travel restrictions imposed in wake of COVID-19, certain categories of OCI cardholders stranded abroad have been permitted to come to India.”
The categories of OCI cardholders now eligible to return to India are:
- Minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards
- OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies, such as 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 (but are not minors) and whose parents are Indian citizens living in India
The Home Ministry also said that travel restrictions imposed on May 7 would not apply to any aircraft, ship, train or any other vehicle deployed for bringing back the above-mentioned categories of OCI cardholders who are stranded abroad.
On 18 March, India had suspended the visa-free entry facility granted to Overseas Citizen of India cardholders amid the outbreak of covid-19.
Over 23,000 Indians, who had been stranded abroad after the lockdown was imposed in March, have been repatriated from dozens of countries under the government’s “Vande Bharat Mission”.
The government has deployed Air India passenger jets and Indian Navy warships to the United States, Europe, the Gulf region, Australia and several countries in Southeast Asia, as well as neighboring nations like Nepal and Bangladesh, to bring back Indian citizens.
The OCI card is issued to the people of Indian-origin, allowing them a visa-free travel in most of the cases.
It also gives them certain privileges like that of an Indian citizen except for buying agricultural land, voting, running for election and working in government.