Following a statement issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs about the deadline for renewal of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, an eminent Indian-American social activist Prem Bhandari is among those who have urged the MHA to extend the renewal deadline till December 31, 2020.
The card, among other benefits, acts as a multiple entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa for Indian-origin foreign nationals to visit India.
In December 2019, the Home Ministry's Foreigners Division issued an office memorandum directing the relevant government agencies and airlines that OCI cardholders younger than 20 and older than 50 years of age who have renewed their passport must get their OCI cards linked to the new documents.
They were given time till June 30, 2020 to renew their OCI card.
Based on feedback from Indian-Americans and the diaspora community, Bhandari said that June 30 is not enough time as this needs a massive awareness campaign on the part of the Indian government.
"My humble request to you is to extend the date of renewal of OCI cards till December 31, 2020 such that the Non-Resident Indian/Person of Indian Origin community has enough time to understand the new requirement and renew their OCI cards," New York-based Bhandari, who last year took up the matter, said in his latest communique to the Indian government.
Bhandari, who heads Jaipur Foot USA, has sent his communique to the External Affairs Ministry and other relevant ministries including civil aviation and home affairs.
“We are grateful to the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs for granting assistance and for helping people to travel to India without their old passports and extending the date of renewal of OCI to June 30, 2020. This has considerably ameliorated the situation," Bhandari said in his letter.
However, Bhandari added that many Indian-origin travellers faced difficulties in boarding flights as airlines frequently misinterpreted the rules or were inflexible although Indian Immigration has been allowing people to enter the country without new OCI cards or even without old passports.