The Coronavirus Got Many People Who Are Working Abroad To Make Their Way Home

Rohan Mathew

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Indians are currently holding the first spot for the largest number of migrants traveling around the world, with a majority of them making their way to the United States of America. There are about 272 million international migrants around the world, working up to 3.5% of the world’s population. According to a recent survey, by the end of 2018, there were approximately 67.2 million forced migrants globally. Out of this 25.9 million refugees were displaced from their countries and 41.3 million were internally displaced within their countries for various reasons.

With so many people traveling and working across the world, they were sending large amounts of money to support their families back home. However, traveling was turning into quite a concern since they were not often nationals of their home country. While this was not an issue in countries like the United States that allowed people to hold multiple passports, or the UK, that allowed for dual citizenship, it was quite a challenge in countries that did not allow dual citizenship to get their people to travel back and forth.

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How did countries solve this issue?


Dual citizenship is not allowed, according to the Indian Constitution. No matter how much pressure was put on the Indian Government through their 17.5 million-strong diaspora, they could

not make that change. However, they worked on a system called the OCI card. The OCI was

introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August 2005 due to pressure coming in from developed countries. This card allowed foreign nationals with roots in India to travel back and forth into the subcontinent without having to apply for a passport each time. Currently, 32,53,912 foreign nationals registered as OCI cardholders with  4,14,906  OCI  cards already issued. The previous system dispatched a person of Indian origin cards but this was scraped asking people to apply for the new OCI cards.


Bangladesh created a similar system providing people from the country who were traveling to other countries, with NVR seals so they could travel back to Bangladesh without having to apply for a visa each time. These foreign nationals had to get the seal on their foreign passports and it lasted the validity of the passport and had to be reviewed when the passport was renewed.

However, they had to prove their origins to the country. Furthermore, people and spouses who were married to Bangladeshi origin individuals were entitled to getting an NVR seal as well. The No Visa Required or NVR Seals were soon changed to stickers or vignette for security reasons.

He application process cost about $100 and could apply for these from any Bangladesh Mission around the world. However, at the beginning of the year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, visas  on arrival were no longer issued to people who previously visited China, Iran, Italy or South Korea.

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Pakistan much like India issued cards to foreign nationals who had origins in the country. As long as an individual could prove that they were nationals in Pakistan, they could apply for a NICOP card. According to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, approximately 8.8 million Pakistanis live abroad, with over 4.7 million in the Middle East and 1.2 million in the United Kingdom. In 2017, overseas Pakistanis sent remittances of ₨ 2137 billion, according to the State Bank of Pakistan,

In an effort to allow these people to travel back to their home country, they could apply for a National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis. NICOP was conceived by NADRA in 2002 coordinating with the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, the Ministry of Labour & Manpower, and the Ministry of Interior. The process of getting one is quite easy with people applying and receiving them in a week if all their paperwork checks out.