Around 16 Indian-Americans, headed for New Delhi, got stranded on John F Kennedy in New York airport on December 22 since they were not carrying their old cancelled passports. They were unaware of the new temporary rules that ask passengers to carry their old cancelled passport whose number is mentioned in their Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card.
OCI card gives the cardholder lifelong visa for India but people below 20 years and above 50 years of age need to get OCI card renewed every time they renew their passport. But the provision has been relaxed till June 30, 2020, on the terms that travellers carry their old passports with them.
According to officials, the Indian-American passengers had their valid OCI card with them but were not carrying their old passport which led to the complication during the issuance of boarding passes by Air India.
The passengers reached out to Prem Bhandari, a community activist and the head of Jaipur Foot USA, through an Air India employee for help.
“All these 16 Indian Americans would have been stranded at the airport and would have been forced to go back home or rebook their tickets at an additional expense, but for the high-level interventions by Indian Ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Consul General New York, Sandeep Chakravorty and Air India (North America) head Kamal Roul,” said Bhandari.
The passengers were told to get their old passports back but the high-level interventions cleared their way to board the Air India flight. Sandeep Chakravorty wrote an email, minutes before the take-off, to Air India at JFK Airport to let the passengers board the flight.
“I believe there are 16 Air India passengers who are not carrying their old passports. However, they are carrying valid US passports and valid OCI cards. You may please allow for boarding the aircraft. Indian immigration will allow them to enter the country,” Chakravorty wrote in the email.
(With PTI Inputs)