Be Careful of OCI Card Requirements at Airports for India Travel


By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: Many passengers are getting a rude shock when they try to board on their flights to India this holiday season, according to local travel agent Homi Davier of Xpert Tours. They are being denied boarding onto their flights due to an overlooked formality relating to the OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards. The OCI card allows people of Indian origin to have a permanent visa that permits entry to India as well as other facilities.

“Just this week, I received an email from Emirates Airlines local Marketing Manager Mark Culmer that many OCI holders arrive with their cards in hand but not the passports which have the OCI stamp in them”, reported Davier as he made bookings for other clients from his office in Little India at 5663 Hillcroft next to Raja Sweets.

According to the Indian Government’s requirements, travelers holding an OCI card must also present the passport which has the original OCI stamp in it, even if they have a new US passport. Without this, the airlines will not let them board their flights even if they show the OCI card. If they want to avoid traveling with two passports, there is a provision where they can request their new passport be stamped with the OCI visa from the local Consulate for a fee.

“I have had passengers calling me frantically from the airport, but short of having the passport with the required OCI stamp in it there’s nothing I can do”, explained Davier who has been in the travel business for over 40 years and knows a thing or two about getting travelers to their destinations and out of a jam. “They have had to cancel their flight and rebook”.