In June 2020, the Home Ministry had included “indulging in Tablighi activities” as a visa violation, which will attract a fine of $500.

Passengers waiting in the airport
news Cirizenship Friday, March 05, 2021 - 19:48

Overseas Indians who posses the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card, will now require special permission to take up any journalism, Tabligh or missionary activities in the country. OCI cardholders coming to India for any research work, internships with foreign missions, or visiting areas that are designated as restricted or protected, too, will need prior permission from competent authorities.

In a notification dated March 4, the Ministry of Home Ministry has added certain rules to the rights that an OCI cardholder shall be entitled to in India. In November 2019, the Home Ministry had issued a document mentioning these new specifications. 

The OCI cardholder is a foreign national holding passport of a foreign country and is not a citizen of India. The OCI scheme was launched in 2015 for people of Indian-origin, which allows them to live and work permanently in India. Citizens from Pakistan and Bangladesh are not eligible for the OCI. However, it is not dual citizenship, which means that OCI cardholders do not have the right to vote like the other citizens of India. 

Multiple entry lifelong visa for visiting India will be granted, however, for undertaking the following activities, the OCI cardholder shall be required to obtain special permission or a Special Permit:

> To undertake research
> To undertake any missionary or Tabligh or mountaineering or journalistic activities
> To undertake an internship in any foreign Diplomatic Missions or foreign government organisations in India or to take up employment in any foreign diplomatic missions in India
> To visit any place which falls within the protected or restricted or prohibited areas as notified by the Union government or competent authority

OCI card holders wishing to undertake these activities will have to seek permission from the competent authority, the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer or the Indian Mission concerned. The OCI Scheme, which became operational on 2 December 2005, does not mention this clause.

Additionally, OCI cardholders are exempted from registering with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer or Foreigners Registration Officer. However, in the new rules specified by the Home Ministry, they have to intimate these authorities whenever there is a change in permanent residential address and/or their occupation.

Like Non-Resident Indians (NRI), they will be allowed to undertake inter-country adoption of Indian children and to appear for competitive exams such as National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test) (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), for seats eligible for NRIS or supernumerary seats. "Provided that the OCI cardholder shall not be eligible for admission against any seat reserved exclusively for Indian citizens," it added.

They will be treated on par with the Indian nationals for air fares in domestic sectors and entry fee for visiting tourist spaces such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, national monuments, historical sites and museums.

They will also be allowed to purchase or sell immovable properties, other than agricultural land, farmhouse or plantation property.

In June 2020, the Home  Ministry had included “indulging in Tablighi activities” as a visa violation, which will attract a fine of $500. The Ministry added a new category under the general policy guideline relating to India visa, called “restriction on engaging in Tabligh activities.” 

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.