The Indian diaspora having OCI cards do not need to carry their old expired passports to travel to India, as per the government notification. The ‘OCI card’ is generally issued to people of Indian origin across the world. It offers all the privileges of an Indian national excluding the right to vote, buying agricultural land, and government service. The OCI card allows them visa-free travel to India.
In the March 26 press released, the Indian missions in the US said that to ease the travel of OCI cardholders, it has decided that the “timeline for re-issuance of OCI cards in r/o OCI cardholders, who may be required to get their OCI card reissued has been extended until 31 December 2021.”
Additionally, the “requirement of carrying old, as well as new passport along with the OCI card, has been done away. From now on, OCI cardholders do not need to carry their old passport while travelling to India. However, carrying a new passport is mandatory.”
New York-based social activist Prem Bhandari, thanks to Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, and Ministry of External Affairs, for the new guidelines. Mr Bhandari said that he had seen first-hand the inconvenience caused to members of the Indian diaspora due to certain OCI card rules as they undertook to travel to India during the pandemic.
The previous year, Prem Bhandari also urged the Indian government for the extension of the date of renewal of OCI cards till December 31, 2020, so that the NRIs or Person of Indian Origin community can have enough time to understand the new requirement and renew their OCI cards. He also expressed hope that the concerns for tourist visas will also be undertaken soon. In October 2020, the Indian government had determined to restore the validity of all existing visas, except tourist, electronic, and medical category visas with immediate effect.