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OCI cardholders no longer need old passports to travel to India

DUBLIN: Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders no longer need old passports to travel to India. Indian descent and Indian expatriates are holders of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards. They were required to carry old/expired passports when traveling to India. It is in this system that the government has modified as per the notification.

Globally, the Overseas Citizens of India or OCI card is issued to people of Indian descent. This card provides all the benefits of an Indian citizen except voting rights, government service and purchase of agricultural land. Holders of OCI cards also get Visa Free Travel to India.

In order to facilitate the journey of OCI card holders, Indian Missions in the US have decided to set a time limit for re-issuance of OCI cards. The OCI card redistribution date has been extended to December 31, 2021. No need to carry old and new passports with OCI card while traveling. From now on, OCI cardholders with old passport numbers will no longer need their old passports. But a new passport is mandatory.

Expatriates collectively believe that the new guidelines will provide relief to OCI cardholders around the world.

During the Pandemic, some Indian expatriates were unable to travel to India due to certain OCI card rules. There have also been cases of people being returned from airports for not holding old passports.

Among other benefits, OCI cardholders are offered a multi-entry and multi-purpose lifelong visa. Under the OCI card conditions issued by the Lifetime Visa, people under the age of 20 and over the age of 50 are required to renew their OCI card whenever they renew their passport.

The Indian government has been easing the conditions since last year due to the corona virus pandemic. This period was extended more than once. However, this is the first time that OCI cardholders have been offered exemptions from the old passport guidelines.

In May last year, the central government allowed OCI card holders stranded abroad to be repatriated. Visas and OCI cards of foreign nationals have been suspended as part of the Indian government’s international travel restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic. OCI cardholders were also asked to bring their old passports to India.

The Home Ministry’s guidelines on the issuance of expired foreign passports have been in place since 2005. But it was not examined in detail or put into practice until 2019.

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