The move will encourage more overseas Indians to become OCIs, benefitting India, through their travel, business and investment in India

The Indian government’s decision to simplify the process of maintaining Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards will encourage more overseas citizens to opt for this form of residency, feel Indian-Americans, a report in the Hindu Business Line said on Friday.

In a move to simplify the process of reissuing Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, the Indian government has decided to do away with the requirement of having to reissue these cards after a person completes 50 years of age, said a statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

At the same time, OCI cardholders will now need to get the card reissued only once on attaining 20 years of age, it had said.

“This will remove the confusion of many OCI cardholders on the process of renewing the card at the age of 20 and 50 and one doesn’t have to go through the whole OCI card renewal process again,” Thomas Abraham chairman of the Global organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) was quoted in the report.

“This will also encourage more overseas Indians to become OCIs and it will benefit India, through their travel, business and investment in India,” he said.

Highly popular among overseas Indians, the OCI card provides long term visa free travel and stay in India and gives the cardholders a host of privileges normally not given to a foreign national, the report said. So far, India has issued about 37.72 lakh OCI Cards, the MHA statement noted.

“OCI process simplification guidelines, issued today (Thursday), truly make OCI a life-long visa. Previously, it was just a long-term visa,” New York-based social activist Prem Bhandari was quoted as saying.

“Travellers with valid OCI, but renewed passports were denied boarding. The excruciating difficulties NRIs have gone through due to the tedious OCI renewal process after getting a passport renewed, are resolved once for all,” Bhandari said.

At the same time, GOPIO urged the Indian Government to take steps to address other issues of the overseas Indian community as well.

“GOPIO strongly urges the government to treat OCI Card holders who have invested in business and creating jobs in India at par with Indian citizens and they shouldn’t be termed as foreign nationals by various government agencies while doing business including manufacturing and research in India,” Abraham said.

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