MEA Writes to Home Ministry Seeking to Allow OCI Card Holders on Special Flights in Next Phases

I am an OCI card holder. Can I travel to India during the Coronavirus pandemic? Is India allowing OCI card holders to travel on inbound repatriation flights? Thousands of weary faces on OCI have been looking forward to the government of India with such queries since the restriction on their travel to India came into effect on March 13 in the aftermath of COVID19. Foreign citizens of Indian origin with or without OCI cards have been kept away from the currently operated emergency flights to India from USA, the UK, the UAE, Singapore, Australia and other countries.

With the mounting of pressure exerted by authorities representing the OCI community in different parts of the world, however, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has hinted at allowing OCI card holders on repatriation flights “at some stage” of the Vande Bharat Mission. The second phase of the operation of bringing distressed Indians back home will be initiated on May 16 and be continued till May 29. An MEA official said that an immediate change in the operation may not be possible on a short notice.

OCI news, OCI card holders repatriation, Vande Bharat mission flights, Air India special flights to India

Picture Credit: New York Consulate General of India | Twitter (right picture)

Reportedly, MEA has written to the home ministry seeking to lift travel restrictions for certain categories of OCI card holders, as distress calls, queries and requests have steadily been pouring in related to special flights to India. Earlier, Indian government justified the repeated suspension of OCI card holders’ travel to India on grounds of limited healthcare resources available for COVID19 patients in the country. It makes the global OCI community question the value of the lifelong visa-free travel facility granted to them.

MEA’s latest annual report indicates at the issuance of nearly 35 lakh OCI cards over the last decade.

Around 2 lakh Indians stuck or stranded abroad have registered for the Vande Bharat Mission flights via Indian consulates and embassies. Among them, students, senior citizens having medical emergency, laid-off professionals and those with “compelling cases” back home have been singled out for special Air India flights to India. In the first phase, some 15000 Indians repatriated to India. In the phase 2, nearly 30000 Indians from 31 countries have been scheduled on 149 special flights to India.

Just like overseas Indian nationals who are shortlisted for repatriation flights on the basis of “compelling cases”, OCI card holders and Indian parents of minor foreign citizens on OCI have compelling reasons to travel/return to India amid the pandemic. Some Indian citizens abroad registered for the Vande Bharat Mission flights and got confirmed, but they stepped back fearing separation from their children who are foreign-born OCI card holders. They have been pleading with GOI to let them travel with their OCI kids.

Among the OCI card holders are students whose Indian parents live in India. Since foreign universities closed their campuses in late March, many students with OCI cards have been distressed and stranded the same way as thousands of Indian nationals abroad. Also, many OCI card holders want to catch up with their ailing parents in India or the bereaved family over the recent demise of a dear one.

As per MEA reports, the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ policy may be revised, by the end of the phase 2, to bring OCI card holders within the ambit of special flights. Currently, all the Air India flights scheduled for repatriation of Indian nationals are fully booked. Notably, Indian Consul General of Atlanta suggested early this month that OCI Card holders may be considered in the future phases of evacuation.

Travel Beats is a subsidiary of Indian Eagle, a leading travel booking partner of NRIs and OCIs. This story is part of our continued effort to report on the latest updates of air travel amid the COVID19 pandemic. Subscribe to Travel Beats’ free newsletter and like our Facebook page for latest OCI news and NRI community stories.

13 thoughts on “MEA Writes to Home Ministry Seeking to Allow OCI Card Holders on Special Flights in Next Phases

  1. Nirmal C Sacheti

    There are many OCIs who are residing with their spouses in India for many years and stuck up in a foreign country suddenly due to Indian government announcement.

    Please at least consider granting emergency visas to such OCIs who are bonafide residents in India and stuck in a foreign country all alone, with or without spouse, children.

    • Helene Menezes

      There is a HUGE difference between OCI holders and PERMANENT resident OCI holders who pay tax in India and life is in India. Whose permanent and only home is!! Is there any central point to join forces??

  2. Kasu Venkateswara Reddy

    I am one of the Senior person having OCI card is looking to travel to India as my wife alone at India. It will be great help if OCI card holders allowed in Phase 2 to travel to India from USA

    • Surinder Verman

      We are a SENIOR CITIZEN couple. We are U.S.A citizens holding OCI Cards and living in India since October, 2012. We came to USA on 12/02/2020 to attend a marriage in the family which was to be ceremonised on 11/04/2020. Due to COVID-19, the marriage got postponed to next year and our return flight for 28/05/2020 has also been cancelled. Our question is when can we travel back to India and join our son and grand daughters, who are also
      US nationals. We are aged 76 and 70 years old and our medical supplies are also reaching alarming level and need replenishment urgently.we do not know whose door should we knock for return to India.

  3. Vasumathi

    I am an Australian Citizen with OCI. I have been living in India with my spouse to look after my aged Mother in law since 2010. On Feb 15 I had come to Melbourne and was due to return in early April. Due to cancellation of flights I am unable to return. Is there a chance to get on board the repatriation flights. Please help

  4. kishor Patel

    i am traveling on 5th june on qatar airline if international flights starts from Atlanta to bombay.they are quarantined us in Bombay or at my home in gujarat.i have oci status

    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Kishore! Good to know that you will travel from Atlanta to Bombay. As far as we think quarantine may not be arranged in Mumbai where thousands of positive COVID19 cases have been detected.

  5. Prem Kumar Billimoria

    Will OCI card holders be permitted to travel at any time to India? Air India flights are coming into Australia I believe returning by birth and naturalised Australian citizens (most are OCI card holders or of Indian origin also) to Australia. Any news anyone on that front? Why is the call only for US based OCI card holders?

  6. ky

    I am holding US Citizenship and Indian visiting visa,but my family in India. I want to travel to india.
    I think government should allow everyone as long as person is Indian origin and family in India or any valid reason.

  7. Vasumathi

    Hi Indian Eagle thanks for the update re certain categories of OCI being allowed to travel on repatriation flights. Can you advise how does one register for these flights


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