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OCI Card Holders Facing Problems While Travelling To India

Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders are facing major problems while travelling to the country because of inadequate awareness among the diaspora about recent enforcement of a rule on renewals. Airlines and immigration officials have cited that a recent advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation, demand that passengers below 20 years of age and above 50 years of age need to have their OCI cards renewed after renewal of their passports. 

As a result, a large number of Indian-Americans are being forced to cancel their trips to India. In many cases they have been forced to return mid-way from places like Dubai and several airlines are refusing to board passengers on flights to India whose passport numbers do not match with those on their OCI card, said Prem Bhandari, Chairman of Jaipur Foot USA.

The OCI card is a major facility for members of the Indian diaspora, bringing them at par with non-resident Indian in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties. It gives them free multiple entry, multi-purpose life-long visa to visit India and also exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India. 

The Government of India is committed to the welfare of the Indian diaspora.

However, with the old rule- renewal of the card in correspondence with the renewal of their passport- now being strictly enforced by the Indian Government, many Indian Americans have been held at the airports or forced to return due to such a provision. Prem Bhandari, who is also a social activist, said he has urged the Indian Ambassador of US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, to help resolve this issue through a mix of public information and awareness campaigns in the US while getting the OCI cards rules to be simplified from the Ministry of Home Affairs end. 

With further plans to raise the matter with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, so airlines could be suitably briefed, Bhandari also stated that Shringla has assured that the Indian government is committed to the welfare of the diaspora and the Indian ambassador will take reasonable steps to resolve the issue while also actively creating awareness across the country through campaigns.

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