The Centre said on Thursday that the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders will now be required to get their document re-issued only once at the age of 20 instead of multiple times needed currently.

According to a Press Information Bureau statement, a person who has got registration as OCI cardholder prior to attaining the age of 20 years will have to get the card re-issued only once when a new passport is issued after his or her completing 20 years of age, so as to capture his or her facial features on attaining adulthood.

If a person has obtained registration as OCI cardholder after attaining the age of 20 years, there will be no requirement of re-issue of OCI card, it said.

Currently, the OCI card is required to be re-issued each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age, in view of biological changes in the face of the applicant. “With a view to facilitate the OCI cardholders, the government has decided to dispense with this requirement,” it added.

The decision, officials familiar with the matter said, has been taken on the directions of Union home minister Amit Shah as part of the government’s desire to simplify the process and it is expected to significantly ease the process for re-issue of OCI cards.

The OCI card has proved to be very popular among foreigners of Indian origin and spouses of foreign origin of Indian citizens or OCI cardholders, as it helps them in hassle-free entry and unlimited stay in India. So far about 37.72 lakh OCI cards have been issued by the government of India, the statement said.

According to the extant law, a foreigner of Indian origin or a foreign spouse of an Indian citizen or foreign spouse of an OCI cardholder, can be registered as an OCI cardholder. The OCI card is a life-long visa for entry into and stay in India with a number of other major benefits attached to it which are not available to other foreigners.

The PIB said, “With a view to update the data regarding new passports obtained by the OCI cardholder, it has been decided that he or she shall upload a copy of the new passport containing his or her photo and also a latest photo on the online OCI portal, each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age. These documents may be uploaded by the OCI cardholder within three months of receipt of the new passport.”

However, the spouses of the cardholders will have to upload the copy of their passport along with a declaration that their marriage is still subsisting each time a new passport is issued.

The Centre said there will be no restriction on the cardholder to travel to or from India during the period from the date of issue of new passport till the date of final acknowledgement of documents in the web-based system.

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