Several airlines denying boarding to certain passengers below 20 or above 50 years of age for not having a new OCI card, in compliance with Indian government’s enforcement of the latest OCI card validity policy, stirred agitation among the foreign citizens of Indian origin in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and the Middle East.
A major relief for Overseas Citizens of India with renewed passports but old OCI cards came just before the launch of Air India’s VBM flights for repatriation of Indians and Indian-origin foreign nationals abroad. In view of the Coronavirus pandemic, the rigid enforcement of the OCI validity and renewal policy by immigration authorities and airline officials was relaxed to ensure smooth travel to India till June 30, 2020. OCI card holders below 20 or above 50 years of age went on to take flights to India with their new passports, old OCI cards, and old cancelled passports post June 30, 2020. As per the latest reports, the Government of India is about to announce a new deadline – June 30, 2021 – for OCI cardholders below 20 and 50 years of age to get their cards reissued.
In case OCI card holders below 20 or above 50 years forget to carry or fail to produce their old cancelled passport while traveling to India, they will be denied boarding. However, re-issuance of OCI card at the time of passport renewal for those below 20 or above 50 is a mandatory requirement that they must fulfill within the new deadline, June 30, 2021. The extended deadline is a welcome relief as long as they possess the old cancelled passport.
“Inadequate awareness about the sudden enforcement of the OCI card renewal rules which have been in place for years had resulted in a mounting number of trip cancellations and cases of harassment at origin airports or during transit at connecting airports before the COVID pandemic brought air travel to a standstill. However, the Government of India has been considerate towards OCI cardholders by not only extending the deadline further, but also allowing certain categories of OCI cardholders to travel to India on VBM and air bubble flights,” said the chief customer relations officer of Indian Eagle Travel.
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