OCI Card: A story of an Emeritus Professor of Medicine from USA!

 This email was sent to me by Rajesh Pandey who is a great guy from our community. He is based in Sydney. The behaviour of the Indian officials with this Professor from USA made me sad. It also raised concerns/questions about OCI cards. I hope we can hear from the Indian Consulate, Sydney about the OCI card and its usefulness.

I reproduce the content of the email.

This email reads as……..
Indian Immigration!
 
Horror Of Dual Citizenship With India
 
   
 
MY DUAL CITIZENSHIP WOES:
MY RECENT EXPERIENCE WITH THE IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT
AT THE KOLKATA AIRPORT AND THE LESSONS I LEARNT
 

My advice to all my friends who hold an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) Card and those who aspire to get one.
 
I am an American citizen.  I also carry an OCI card (Overseas Citizen of India) since 2007. 
On Saturday, June 20, 2009 , I arrived at the Kolkata Netaji Subhas Airport from Detroit via Singapore , by Singapore Airlines (SQ 516) at 10:30 P.M.
 
I presented myself to an Immigration Officer  ( Mr. Biswas ) for immigration clearance.  I gave him my American passport and my OCI card.  He demanded to see my visa from the Indian consular office.  Unfortunately, that visa was attached to my old passport and I did not bring it with me.
I explained to him that I am sorry I forgot to bring my old passport but since I do possess a valid OCI Card that would automatically mean that I do also possess a permanent (life long) visa for India and there are proofs that I have traveled multiple times to India after I had received my OCI card. 
 
Mr. Biswas detained me for two hours inside the airport   and then he told me that he is going to allow me to stay in India for 72 hours and asked me to report to the Foreign Relations Regional Officer (FRRO) in the city within 72 hours.  He kept my passport.  During all that time I had no opportunity either to approach his OC (Officer in Charge) although I asked for it, or to contact my relatives who came to the airport to receive me and were waiting outside and had no idea why I was being held back or if I have even arrived.
 
Forgetting to bring my old passport was my own fault but I ‘forgot’ to bring it partly because I knew I have my OCI Card with me and I thought, that means something, I really believed that I am a citizen of India too.  Why would a citizen also need a visa to enter his own country?   I thought I have a dual citizenship for both the USA and India . Other wise, what is the difference between an ordinary foreigner and the OCI Card holder?
Next day was a Sunday, I called a friend in Ann Arbor who went into my house, got my old passport and sent me the scanned copy of my old passport and a copy of my permanent visa by e-mail. 
 
So, on Monday I went to see Mr. Bibhas Talukdar , the FRRO.  He hardly looked at the documents (the scanned visa) that I had with me he simply asked me to get my old passport by courier mail within another seven days.  He appeared gleeful telling me that it is only out of  “pity” that he is allowing me to stay in India for seven more days.  He was totally unimpressed by either my status as a Professor Emeritus of the University of Michigan or my age (70+)
 
I called my friend in Ann Arbor again who then sent my old passport by FedEx.  Three days later the passport arrived.  Since I had to leave Kolkata for prescheduled visit to Bangalore , my niece took it to Mr. Talukdar . But due to lack of communication between the FRRO office and the airport immigration department my passport had not arrived at the city office even after 9 days.  My niece had to go to the FRRO’s office three times once waiting until 6 P.M. still they did not have my passport.  They only promised: “it will come soon”. At last,  12 days after my arrival, my niece got my passport.
 
From this painful and anxiety provoking experience I have learned a few valuable lessons:
 
1.    The loud talk about “Dual Citizenship” for Indian Americans is just a political hoax.
 
2.    The OCI card just does not have any value.  It is just a piece of expensive junk. You still need a visa every time you travel to India whether or not you possess an OCI card.  Only difference is that for the high price of getting an OCI card you will get a “life long ” visa.  A 10-year visa is much cheaper.
 
3.    When coming to India always consider yourself a foreigner and bring your visa with you, there will be no exceptions. Your OCI card is not a visa substitute.
 
4.     In fact, you will probably be treated worse than an ordinary foreigner arriving without a valid visa.  Because a foreigner especially a white Caucasian will at least be treated with courtesy and probably offered a temporary visa if there is no reason to deny it, but not you.
 
Please feel free to forward this mail to any of your friends who may befit from my experience.  Especially feel free to forward this to any influential politician or civil servant in India that you may know.
 
Sujit K. Pandit M.D.,Professor Emeritus, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan

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I have sent a copy of this email to Indian Consulate, Sydney. They may consider about enlightening Indian Australians re the value of the OCI cards. There are OCI card holders in Australia and they would be interested in this matter.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/11th Sept, 2009

8 thoughts on “OCI Card: A story of an Emeritus Professor of Medicine from USA!

  1. It is embarraasing that the indian government makes so much money out of NRI investments but wont grant a full fledged dual citizenship. The reason cited is the ” Indian constitution doesent allow. My question is the constitution exists for the people and not vice versa, When more countries around the world offer full fledged dual citizenship and NRIs remit more money in their country (India) than any other nationalities do for their country why not offer full fledged dual citizenship and save us from these kind of hardships that a 70 year old Indian has to go through. It just does not make sense to me.

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  2. I just came across this incident.
    I would say the Prof was wrong here and did not completely understand what OCI meant. India does NOT offer dual citizenship. OCI is merely an ‘extended visa’. The website clearly and unambiguously states that the passport containing the visa stamp has to be carried with the passenger when entering India. Infact, the Prof should be relieved that he was let off with only a slight reprimand and not sent back to US.
    When he was a visa holder or GC, he would have taken extra pains to make sure that he carried ALL documents to the Port of Entry in US. I see no reason why it should be any different when he travels to India.

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    • Prof made a mistake – but there do not agree with your comments. There is something called “judgement” that every officer can exercise. A 70 year old professor emeritus of indian origin is not a threat to national security. Why couldn’t the officer have given him a temporary visa and charged him required fees ?

      The analogy with US immigration department and the need to carry all documents is incorrect – if you are a GC holder all you need to enter the US is your current passport and your GC – not the original passport with the original GC visa stamp. \ OCI is like a GC in almost all respects – an OCI passport should also serve like a GC – otherwise why issue it at all. If they had not issued such a document people would be extra careful to carry their original visa stamped passport as proof of their visa.

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      • Prof is wrong here.

        OCI is not GC. Every country has their own law which guests must follow.
        Prof gave up his Indian citizenship voluntarily in search of greener pasture. He should now behave like a guest in India and follow the laws of India.

        US sends back hundreds of people from PoE for FAR minor errors.

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  3. Well, This article reveals a lot. It reveals flaws in the OCI process as well as with the character of the “Emeritus”. I too am a professor in surgery at a top 5 Medical School in the United States. I see no reason why the FRRO (or any other individual, for that matter) to have been impressed with your “status as a Professor Emeritus”. This tells me you have a large ego, and may actually indicate diminshed cranial volume. Please humble yourself, and make the appropriate complaints with the correct people.

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    • you r right.we should follow the rules and regulations of each country.Even I’m a oci card holder. Officers from uk border agency also makes irritating questions even in UK. so he should follow the law…………….no excuse

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  4. the name “OCI ” is a misnomer . There never was never has been dual citizenship. Dont know why India Govt choses to confuse people with the word ” citizen ” in OCI !!!.
    The requirment of having to carry the old passport on which the visa was affixed along with the OCI card should have been made public and this is the GOVT s fault completely . It now discloses this requirement on the website but ealrlier whn the OCi was still new , itwasnt done and innocent people like the proefessor had to suffer.

    The professor is wrong in assuming dual citizenship was conferred upon him . However you cant get the OCi card if you dont have the visa that goes with it so Mr. Biswas who was on a power trip was on a high during this incident , happy to vent his wrath on an innocent man .

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