Updated: March 17, 2021 8:41:41 am
IN THE wake of new restrictions imposed on Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and the confusion it has created among OCI cardholders over interpretation of the new rules, the government is working on an online system to provide permission for restricted activities.
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said soon those willing to carry out journalistic or research work in India while holding an OCI card will not have to go to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or any other authority designated by the government but will get their permissions online.
“To ease the hassle of OCI cardholders, the ministry is working on a system where they can make an online application for the mentioned restricted activities and get permission. They will have to declare for what particular activity they are visiting India and permissions will be granted accordingly. As of now they have to either go to the FRRO or for journalistic activity have to visit the XP division of the Ministry of External Affairs,” an official in the MHA said.
In a gazette notification early this month, the government imposed certain restrictions on OCI cardholders wanting to carry out journalism, research work or engage in Tabligh and missionary activities among others. Though the restrictions had earlier been mentioned out broadly in November 2019 in an OCI brochure, the gazette notification granted legal sanction to what was earlier only in the form a guideline.
Clearing confusion of new regulations
THE LATEST restrictions put on OCI cardholders in exercising journalism, research work or mountaineering has created confusion among those already pursuing these professions in India as well as those intending to. Many OCIs have said even the FRROs do not have clear instructions on how to implement the new restrictions. An online permit system is likely to address these issues and make the process hassle free.
Through a gazette notification, the government said OCI cardholders would have to take prior permission from “competent authority” or the FRRO “to undertake research; to undertake any Missionary or Tabligh or Mountaineering or Journalistic activities; to undertake 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 Central Government or competent authority”.
Restriction on Tabligh activities for OCIs last find mention in a document titled “General Policy Guidelines Relating to Indian Visa” published on February 1, 2018.