New Delhi: Indians will no longer have to get a visa every time they travel to their motherland. The decision was taken seeing the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) being merged under the same wing last year.
The pertinence of an OCI card will be enough to enter the country, hence eradicating the need for a visa.
Although, carrying a passport will be compulsory.
According to a senior government official: “Till now, every OCI card holder also had to get a visa affixed from the Indian High Commission whenever they planned a visit to India. Now, only the OCI card will be needed”.
The government has planned to print OCI cards in prominent countries like UK and USA, where a majority of Indian population resides.
The government altered the citizenship act last year, collaborating the OCI and PIO
“Since the announcement, there was a lot of confusion among the diaspora regarding the two cards. The respective missions in foreign countries held workshops and tried to clear doubts. The earlier deadline to migrate from PIO to OCI was January 2016, but we have now extended the deadline to June 30,” the official said.
The merging of OCI and PIO will help the government in gaining an actual database of the Indian diaspora since an amalgamated figure is not present.
“Keeping in view the promise [made by PM Modi in the USA and Australia in 2014], an ordinance was promulgated on January 6, 2015 whereby the eligibility and additional benefits of the PIO card have been incorporated in the OCI card and certain other relaxation to OCI card holders have been given by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955. The PIO and the OCI cards used to exist simultaneously, leading to a lot of confusion among the PIOs residing abroad,” an official said. (Inputs from The Hindu)