India proposes to offer lifetime visas to diaspora

India

It is being mooted to offer lifetime visas to the descendants of the indentured workers of India sent to the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, East Africa, among other countries by colonial rulers.

Currently, some foreign nationals of Indian origin hold OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards, which were granted by the previous government headed by Manmohan Singh and the present dispensation at the centre. These cards allow them to visit India without the need of a visa.

But the OCI Card does not grant citizenship and has been issued for only up to fourth-generation Indian immigrants, leaving out the other descendants of Indians who were sent abroad during the 19th century. The present government is drawing a plan to extend the OCI card facility to even older Indian emigrants.

According to the Telegraph, descendants of the indentured labourers, a.k.a. girmitiyas, account for more than 50 percent of the Indian diaspora across the world of 15.4 million.

Deonath Jugnath, a Trinidad and Tobago-based industrialist, was quoted by the news daily as saying that he felt happy when India’s indentured workers’ descendants were recognised by the government in 2003.

The NDA government had then introduced a PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card scheme for the descendants of Indian workers. The PIO cards, which were issued for up to fourth-generation of Indian immigrants, granted them 15-year visas.

Modi-led NDA government decided to merge the PIO and OCI card schemes in September 2014.

The current proposal intends to go further by offering visas for a lifetime.

If you are looking to travel abroad, contact Y-Axis to get professional counselling services to file for a visa from one of its 19 offices located in eight Indian cities.

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