Desi Talk - page 20

20
April 3, 2015
We offer free
consultation
Prashant Bhatia, Esq.
Attorney at Law
1. Immigration Court Reforms
2. Worker Exploitation
3. ICE Personnel Reforms
4. U and T Visas
5. Naturalization
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By: Michael Phulwani, Esq., David H.
Nachman, Esq. and Rabindra K. Singh,
Esq., Immigration Lawyers at the
Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law
Group, P.C. - VISASERVE (NJ, NY,
Canada, and India).
OCI Cardholder: India Offers
Multiple Entry & Multi-
Purpose Life-Long Visa to
its Overseas Citizens
The Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra
Modi, during his last visit to the United States,
had promised to the Indian community about
a life-time visa and exemption from the
requirement of registering with police author-
ities during long-term stays in India for
Persons of Indian Origin (PIO).
Giving effect to the Prime Minister’s prom-
ise, the Central Government of India through
a Gazette Notification notified that that the
PIO card scheme has been merged with the
OCI scheme and the new scheme will be
referred as “Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)
cardholder. The new scheme need not be con-
fused with dual citizenship because the
Constitution of India does not offer dual citi-
zenship. This is only a scheme to bring PIO
and OCI in parity.
The Gazette notification further stated that
all existing PIO cardholders shall be deemed
as OCI cardholders effective January 9, 2015.
All PIO applications currently pending are
being returned to the applicants with a
request to apply for OCI card on the same fee
prescribed for the PIO card. In case the PIO
cardholder has new passport then he or she
can travel to India on their new passport with
the valid PIO card and old passport men-
tioned on the PIO card.
Who Can Register As An (OCI) Cardholder?
Amending the Citizenship Act of 1955, the
Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of
India, has extended the registration as an OCI
cardholder to the following categories of peo-
ple:
Any person who is a citizen of another
country, but: (1) was a citizen of India at the
time of, or at any time after, the commence-
ment of the Constitution; (2) was eligible to
become a citizen of India at the time of the
commencement of the Constitution or (3)
belonged to a territory that became part of
India after the 15th day of August, 1947.
Minor children where both their parents
are citizens of India, or where one of the par-
ents is a citizen of India.
Great grandchildren of certain Individuals
who were previously Indian citizens or were
eligible to be Indian citizens.
The spouse of foreign origin of an India
citizen or of an OCI cardholder whose mar-
riage has been registered and subsisted for a
minimum of two years, subject to prior secu-
rity clearance. The OCI card would be can-
celled if the marriage is dissolved or the
spouse who obtained the OCI card marries
another person.
What Are The Benefits For An OCI
Cardholder?
An OCI cardholder would get the following
benefits:
A multiple entry, multi-purpose life-long
visa for visiting India.
Exemption from registration with local
police authority for any length of stay in India.
Parity with Non-resident Indians (NRIs) in
respect of economic, financial and education-
al fields, except in relation to acquisition of
agricultural or plantation properties.
OCI can be used as identity proof for
application of PAN Card and driving license
as well as for opening a bank account if the
OCI cardholder is residing in India.
What Benefits An OCI Cardholder Is Not
Entitled To.
The OCI Cardholder will not be entitled:
To vote.
To be a member of a Legislative Assembly
or of a Legislative Council or of the Parliament
of India.
To hold Indian constitutional posts such
as that of the President, Vice President, Judge
of the Supreme Court or High Court etc.
He/she cannot normally hold employ-
ment in the Government.
UnderWhat Circumstances The Indian
Government Can Cancel The OCI Cardholder
Registration?
Section 7D of the Citizenship Act, 1955
(amended), specifies the grounds under
which the Central Government of India can
cancel the OCI cardholder registration. Note
that while certain grounds are specific, some
are vague. Specifically, the Indian Central
Government may cancel the registration if it is
satisfied that:
the registration was obtained by means of
fraud, false misrepresentation or the conceal-
ment of any material fact.
the OCI cardholder shows disaffection
towards the Constitution of India.
the OCI cardholder has, during any war
in which India may be engaged or been
engaged in, has unlawfully traded or commu-
nicated with an enemy, or assisted an
enemy.
the OCI cardholder, within five years after
registration, has been sentenced to imprison-
ment for a term two years or more.
it is necessary to cancel the registration in
the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of
India; the security of India, maintaining
friendly relationship with any foreign country,
or in the interests of the general public.
the marriage of an OCI cardholder who
had obtained registration through marriage to
an Indian Citizen or OCI cardholder has been
either dissolved or the foreign spouse has sol-
emnized marriage with another person.
Conclusion
Based on the foregoing, the Central gov-
ernment of India has not only changed the
name of the scheme previously called as OCI
to OCI cardholder, by amending the
Citizenship Act of 1955, it has completely
abolished the PIO scheme. However, note that
the new scheme is not a dual citizenship that
the Indian government is offering to its over-
seas citizens, it is mere a privilege which can
be taken away by the Central government of
India. Also, worth highlighting is that the
Individuals who currently hold PIO do not
need to make an application for OCI card-
holder because the existing PIO cardholder
would be deemed as OCI cardholder.
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