Snowcapped mountains in Arunachal Pradesh. Photo:
Debangan Das / 500px
A new notification issued by the Union Home Ministry on 4 March is going to change the way Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) experience the country. OCIs will now need a special permit for several activities, including mountaineering, and to visit certain areas of the country that are categorised as “protected, restricted and prohibited”. Here’s what you need to know:
Who is an OCI?
Overseas Citizens of India are typically persons of Indian origin but have foreign passports and are not officially citizens of India. Often, these are children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of people who have been Indian citizens in an earlier time. Or, they could be persons who were Indian nationals till about 1950 before taking up citizenship of another county. India does not have provisions for dual citizenship. However, it does provide several benefits to OCIs, including a multiple entry life-long visa.
What does the new notification change for OCIs?
According to the new notification,
- OCIs now need special permits for journalistic, missionary, mountaineering and ‘Tabligh’ activities in India.
- Special permissions will also be required to visit any place that is categorised as a protected, restricted or prohibited area (see the list below).
- However, entry fees to visit national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, monuments and museums in India as well as airfare and tariffs in the domestic sector will now be at par with Indian nationals for OCIs.
Which parts of the country will OCIs need a special permit for?
- Whole of Arunachal Pradesh
- Whole of Manipur
- Whole of Mizoram
- Whole of Nagaland
- Whole of Sikkim
- Parts of Himachal Pradesh
- Parts of Jammu & Kashmir
- Parts of Rajasthan
- Parts of Uttarakhand
Even the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar islands falls under ‘Restricted Areas’ under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order 1963.