Indian embassy issues fresh guidelines for Overseas Citizens of India card holders
The Overseas Citizens of India card holders, while travelling to India, must carry the OCI booklet and their passport having ‘U’ visa sticker, the Indian Embassy has said.
While the OCI card provides its holder a multiple entry, multi-purpose life-long visa for visiting India, in many cases its holders are required to apply for its re-issuance, including re-issuance of new passport for those below 20 and above 50.
“For an applicant who is 21 to 49 years of age, there is no need to re-issue OCI documents each time a new passport is issued. However, if the applicant desires, he/she can request that the OCI documents be re-issued so that the OCI documents reflect the correct passport number,” the Embassy said.
For an applicant who is 50 years of age or older, OCI documents must be re-issued once after the issuance of a new passport, the statement said.
One should apply for re-issuance of OCI card in case there is a change in personal particulars, loss or damage of passport and/or OCI booklet, for correcting personal details entered wrongly while submitting online applications.
However in case of emergency, the OCI card holder can continue to carry the old passport wherein OCI ‘U’ visa sticker is pasted along with the new passport and the OCI booklet for visiting India.
“It is important for the OCI card holder to carry the OCI booklet along with the passport having U visa sticker. Both these documents should always be in the possession of the OCI card holder while travelling to India,” it said.
Minor children of OCI card holders are not eligible for OCI cards, it said adding that they can apply for PIO (People of Indian Origin) card.
An individual who has ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, is not eligible for OCI card.
OCI exempts from registration with local police authority for any length of stay in India and is at parity with Non-resident Indians (NRIs) in respect of economic, financial and educational fields, except in relation to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
“OCI can be used as identity proof for application of PAN Card and driving license as well as for opening a bank account if the card holder is residing in India,” the Embassy said.
At the same time, the card holder is not entitled to vote, to be a member of a Legislative Assembly or of aLegislative Council or of the Parliament, to hold a constitutional post and cannot normally hold employment in the Government.
OCI card holder is entitled to life-long visa free travel to India while in the case of PIO card holders it is for 15 years only.
ON PARSIS OBTAINING TOURIST VISA FOR INDIA
At present, there is an important issue affecting approximately 7000 Parsis living outside of India where intervention from the Mumbai Panchayat and other influential Indian Parsis can be of significant help. The problem is with the Indian government’s discriminatory policy in granting tourist visa to a segment of the Parsi population. In this regard, I would like to highlight the following points:
•The discriminatory practices often results in lengthy delays of up to six months in obtaining a visa and the permits issued to this group often contain several restrictions. In certain cases, Parsis have been denied a visa to enter India.
•This harassment from Indian Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates is experienced by all Parsis born in any city which falls within Pakistan. Hence, the Karachites are most affected by it. Those outside this category obtain an Indian visa within two days and with far fewer restrictions.
•With the present geopolitical climate in the Subcontinent, the Indian government has with a single brushstroke painted all communities, born (before or after Independence) in a certain geographical area, as a threat to their national security. Yet, no country is more aware of the pacifism within the Parsi culture than India. One can categorically state that right from independence up to the present, not a single Parsi has ever been of any threat to India. And, on a per capita basis, the Parsis are viewed as India’s most respected, educated and affluent community.
•Parsis from around the world view Mumbai and other neighbouring townships (in Gujarat) as their true indigenous homeland. Many of us also have family and friends there. But, most importantly, from a religious point of view, Udvada is the Parsi Jerusalem. Pilgrimage to the Atash Behram there is our fundamental right which the Indian government, inadvertently, has taken away from us.
•If any Indian influential group or individual were to lobby this issue at ministerial level, amendments could be made to the existing rule.
•It can be suggested to them that to ensure no non-Parsi infiltrates unnoticed, a control system can be established in every major Parsi centre where a designated representative working in tandem with the respective Indian Mission, signs an affidavit confirming the visa applicant to be a Parsi and of good standing in society.