Good News: India Relaxes Visa and Travel Restrictions for Certain Categories of OCI Card Holders

In one of our most recent Travel News articles, we disseminated the information about possible lifting of India’s travel restrictions for OCI card holders. Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had written to the Home Ministry seeking to allow certain categories of OCI card holders on repatriation flights to India in the Vande Bharat Mission Phase 2.

This morning the Government of India relaxed visa and travel restrictions for OCI card holders to facilitate their return to India amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The latest directive issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs permits certain categories of OCI card holders, who are stranded abroad, to come to India.

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Picture Credit: OCIservices.gov.in

Indian nationals’ (minor) children who are foreign citizens by birth and hold OCI cards can travel to India now. Many Indian nationals abroad were not able to travel to India because their OCI children were restricted from entering India with effect from March 13. However, the relaxation of travel restrictions eases their way to enter India with their minor children on OCI.

The categories of OCI card holders permitted to come to India include those who wish to travel to India and visit their family on account of compelling emergencies like death. Since before 10 days India imposed lockdown resulting in suspension of all international passenger flights, several OCI card holders have lost either of their parents in India and repeatedly urged GOI to lift the travel restrictions on them.

Couples including an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder and an Indian national having a permanent residence in India are in the third category of OCI card holders that the government of India now permits to enter the country.

The fourth category of OCI card holders includes foreign citizens of Indian origin (not legally minors) who study abroad and whose parents are Indian nationals residing in India. Thousands of students holding OCI cards have been stranded abroad with little resources due to the closure of university campuses over the COVID19 crisis. Their Indian parents have tweeted and retweeted their anxieties and concerns to MEA, PMO and the Civil Aviation Ministry of India over the past few weeks.

In the directive, MEA makes it clear that the travel restrictions imposed on OCI cardholders in general, will not apply to any mode of transport deployed for the above-mentioned categories of OCI cardholders to travel to India.

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