Why in news?
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has relaxed Visa and Travel restrictions imposed in response to COVID -19, permitting certain categories of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders, who are stranded abroad, to come to India.
Following categories of OCI Cardholders stranded abroad, have been permitted to come to India:
- Minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and holding OCI cards.
- OCI cardholders who wish to come to India on account of family emergencies like death in family.
- Couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India.
- University students who are OCI cardholders (not legally minors) but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India.
Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)
- An Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) is a person who is technically a citizen of another country having an Indian origin.
- They are defined as a person who: Was a citizen of India on or after 26th January 1950; or Was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January 1950; or Is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
- According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
- The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme was introduced by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005 in response to demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries.
- Multi-purpose and life-long visa are provided to the registered Overseas Citizen of India for visiting India and are also exempted from registration with Foreign Regional Registration Officer or Foreign Registration Officer for any length of stay in India.
Benefits to OCI Card Holders
- OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times, get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, and are exempt from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
- If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she is eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
- At all Indian international airports, OCI cardholders are provided with special immigration counters.
- OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India, buy the non-farm property and exercise ownership rights and can also apply for a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card.
LIMITATIONS on OCI Card Holders. What do OCI miss out on compared to normal Citizens?
- They are not covered by Right to equality of opportunity under article 16 of the Constitution with regard to public employment.
- They lack the benefit of Right for election as President and Vice-President under article 58 and article 66 respectively.
- They are not entitled to the rights under article 124 and article 217 of the Constitution.
- They are not given Right to register as a voter under section 16 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950(43 of 1950).
- They Lack Rights with regard to the eligibility for being a member of the State Council/Legislative Assembly/Legislative Council.
- They are not eligible for appointment to the posts of Public Services and Union Affairs of any State.
- They cannot purchase agricultural or farmland.
- They cannot travel to restricted areas without government permission.