The Government of India started the Overseas Citizenship of
India Card (OCI Card) program with good intentions to help the Indian community
in foreign countries. But it has become an official instrument to harass the
people. This is not surprising considering the role of the bureaucracy in
It is easier to get a green card or passport in the
The current problems started with a few airlines in
People who travel from faraway places were turned away at airports a few hours before the departure of their flights. In many cases, some family members were allowed to fly while others were denied entry. One can imagine the suffering of the people.
The rules say that one should get the OCI card re-issued each time you get a new passport till the age of 20. From 20 to 50 there is no need to re-issue it. When you cross 50, you should get the OCI re-issued once when you get a new passport. Thereafter, there is no need of a reissue.
A few problems show up here. If one got an OCI Card at the age of 19 or 49 respectively, you have to renew it when you get a new passport. In that case, you get a new passport at the age of 29, or 59, which is when you need to get a OCI Card re-issued.
The first question is, how many people can remember this? It would have been easier if the rules said that one should get OCI reissued when one crosses 20 or 50. The current OCI rules only engender confusion. Why cannot the officials use simple, straightforward language?
It is irrational to re-issue a ‘life-long’ visa. Instead,
they could have dispensed with the ‘life-long’ and put an expiry date for the
card, (not the OCI status) just as in the case of the Green Card in the
If it is a life-long visa, what is the need for renewal or
If renewal is necessary for whatever reason, it could easily be implemented without nesting it in a set of bewildering rules.
For example, the immigration officer in
This is a result of the official mindset in
In last October, this writer went to
But we heard many others were not as lucky with other
After reports of people being turned away from the check-in counter, the writer decided to get his wife and daughter’s OCI cards reissued.
Oh my God! Navigating the website was an unforgettable experience, thanks to both the technical people who created it, and the officials who cleared it for use. There was no mention of the application fee. The application was a problem every step of the way. After failing four times, I sent an email to Cox and Kings Global Service, which processes the information. They sent the standard reply that all information is available on their site. Where??
Then I called them and they helpfully suggested that I try yet again afresh. There was no way to complete a partially filled application. I started to fill up the application form for the fifth time.
To my luck, I reached the stage where I had to upload the photo and the photo of the signature. The photographs stubbornly refused to upload. After several attempts, I gave up. The next day, I girded my loins and I tried again.
Hurrah. It went through this time! Why now? No idea.
Trisanku is fairly computer literate. But the process must be a nightmare for those who do not know the complexities involves like scanning photos or resizing it.
Anyhow, I filled up the two parts in the government site of https://ociservices.gov.in/. But there was no mention of what I would have to do next. The CKGS site also provided no clues about the next step.
I had assumed CKGS has access to the applications made at the ociservices.gov.in/ site.
So I called CKGS again, and got through to a representative after a few attempts. The person asked to fill up the application on the CKGS site also. That was hardly much easier, but I did it.
While conducting the procedure, I noticed that the language on
both sites was convoluted and hard to understand. I wondered why the
Later, I printed the application from OCI services page and sent it by Fedex using the forms printed from CKGS. I put in the two passport photos, a money order for $75 and the old OCI Card.
I heard some people mention about attesting an affidavit. I
did not do it. What is the need to attest a copy of a
I dodged that bullet, too. Things were very, very, smooth thereafter. I got text messages about the progress of the application and in a few days I got the re-issued OCI Cards in Fedex. Thank you all!
More than two million people hold OCI Cards now. This means,
the government of
It is time for the Indians here, especially those of the second generation, to rethink of the use of OCI cards. If they are eligible to get a visa on arrival why go through the onerous and expensive process of getting an OCI Card?
Of course, the first generation, who has property and close
The OCI Card program had a troubled start, with cardholders being turned away at airports or deported from India for not carrying a passport with a ‘U visa’ printed on it. After much protest, the rule was revoked and the OCI Card alone was deemed sufficient.
Then came the recent problem of re-issue. After a hue and
cry from the community, especially from Keralites in the
But still people face problems at the airport, especially if they forgot the old passports.
Thomas T Oommen, a longtime activist in
The OCI card has also lost much of its powers in recent years. The program was started with a promise that cardholders would be treated at par with Non Resident Indians (who are Indian citizens) in all but three things: They would not be allowed to contest election, vote or hold government office, or buy agricultural land.
Now the government added new provisions. Cardholders cannot do missionary work, journalism, or mountaineering, without special permission.
A few questions here. How does one define missionary work? Is attending a Christian church service, speaking to a Christian gathering, or being a medical doctor practicing for free at a Christian-owned hospital amount to missionary work?
That last point is not a hypothetical, since last year the
Those who added this provision forgets that Hindu sanyasins, human ‘gods’ and others freely come to the US to do whatever they want.
How does one define journalism again? Is it writing,
photography or film making?
As for the restrictions about mountaineering…. Frankly, Trisanku is baffled by that.