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Relevant for: Indian Polity | Topic: Indian Constitution - Features & Significant Provisions related to The Preamble, Union & its Territories and The Citizenship

Long delay:A portal that was to come up for OCIs to notify the government is not operational yet.file photo  

The Home Ministry’s March 4 order that required professional Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs), such as journalists, engineers and researchers, to notify the Ministry about their activities in India has left them in the lurch.

A portal that was to come up for the purpose is not operational yet. A Ministry official said it was delayed as several officials in the Ministry’s Foreigners Division had tested positive for COVID-19 in the past month. The official said the OCIs could intimate the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) through e-mail till the portal is activated.

Rajanna Sreedhara, president of the Association of Resident OCI and Families (AROCIF), said they believed the notification was discriminatory adding that they planned to challenge it in the High Court but the plan is currently on the back burner due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NRI quota seats

On March 4, the Ministry issued a gazette notification that OCI cardholders could claim “only NRI (Non-Resident Indian) quota seats” in educational institutions. It specified that OCIs could only pursue the following professions — doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists, advocates, architects and chartered accountants, and the rest would require “special permission”.

OCIs are of Indian origin but hold foreign passports. India does not allow dual citizenship but provides certain benefits under Section 7B(I) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 to the OCIs. So far, 37.72 lakh OCI Cards are said to have been issued.

The notification said that OCIs shall be required to obtain a “special permission or a special permit” from the competent authority or the FRRO or the Indian mission “to undertake research, missionary or Tabligh or mountaineering or journalistic activities or internship in any foreign diplomatic missions”.

“The notification does not mention IT professionals, a large number of OCIs are engineers; so will they have to apply for employment visa? It says permission required to conduct research ... this will place undue burden on scientific, pharmaceutical, medical, biotechnology and other research fields,” Dr Sreehdara said.

“Even if an OCI student has secured a high rank in an exam like NEET [National Eligibility Entrance Test], several institutions of repute do not have NRI seats. The exorbitantly high fees under the NRI quota cannot be afforded by many OCIs as they live and work in India. India-domiciled OCI students are deprived of domicile status both in India [country of residence] as well as the country of their citizenship,” Dr. Sreedhara said.

Anjana Hulse, an OCI and Bengaluru resident, said her son secured All India Rank 2 in the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana examinations held by the government, but added,

“We are not sure of getting admission in the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru,” she said.

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