Dr Michael ATCHIA

The idea is based on the existing Indian system of Overseas Citizen of India, the OCI Card, which allows people of Indian origin (PIOs) born or living outside India, to acquire this visa. The OCI CARD is not a passport nor a certificate granting citizenship to the applicant, but is very attractive and offers to holders many advantages and benefits.

In the case of India, their card provides a lifelong visa to the holders, sparing them the need for permits. OCI holders are treated on par with NRIs for economic, financial and educational matters BUT they do not acquire political rights; i.e. to vote or hold public office (an OCI holder cannot stand for elections, become an MP, or PM or be elected as President of India). Also they do not have rights to buy agricultural and plantation properties. An OCI card is FREE, and not dependent in any way on investment of millions or hefty payments.

An OCI card holder can purchase immovable property in India, barring agricultural land, plantation property and farmhouses.

The advantages offered have stimulated huge number of the more well-to-do PIOs living in the US, UK, CANADA, AUSTRALIA and elsewhere TO APPLY AND OBTAIN SUCH A VISA. And for India this has meant a huge flow of capital from these foreign countries to India, mainly for the purchase of property, setting up business or simply for living expenses. The returning diaspora also brings back new technologies and invaluable business, IT and industrial experience.

In practice, most OCI holders go back to India occasionally or regularly, even often, as the case may be, but MOST retain FULLY their homes, jobs, retirement, health coverage etc in their country of immigration (for example the US). None are in any way required to renounce their new nationality (e.g. British /Canadian/Australian etc). If that had been the case, very few would have applied for the OCI visa and card.

Many OCI are also very demanding in terms of cleanliness of living areas, roads, services, politeness, efficiency and prompt service etc often lacking in India AND therefore help improve quality of life in India. In certain city centres or areas of great beauty (e.g. Simla, Darjeeling etc) the large number of OCI wishing to buy property have also caused house prices to rise. In all case they have given a boost to housing development.

(A distant parallel is the right of persons of even part British descent to apply for British nationality or at least the right to live in Britain, but not an organised scheme as the OCI)

OCM :  A new OCM VISA may be of great interest to people born and are now living in UK, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Italy, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Canada, USA, India, Malaysia, Hong-Kong, Singapore and other places and who have a parent or  grandparent of Mauritian origin.

What advantages for these foreign citizens?

A new opening being offered by MAURITIUS to people with any form of MAURITIAN descent to come back to the mother country, while retaining fully their new nationality and life.  In some way a form of compensation to the descendants of those who feel they had to emigrate in the past, for whatever reason.

Take an example: A well settled engineer in Australia, grandchild of a Mauritian emigrant of 1966, is a potential OCM. If he or she applies and obtains OCM, he or she may come to MAURITIUS for STAY, WORK or STUDY or ACQUIRE PROPERTY, BUT will certainly continue his or her life as a full Australian citizen, with all the rights and duties. By virtue of having one ancestor who came from MAURITIUS, the potential OCM can now contemplate a new opening in life: i.e. travel to MRU without visa, STAY as long as he /she likes, WORK or STUDY or ACQUIRE PROPERTY in MAURITIUS, while REMAINING fully an Australian.

What advantages for MAURITIUS?

For MAURITIUS this could mean a huge flow of capital from these foreign countries, mainly for the purchase of property, setting up business or simply for living expenses. The returning diaspora also bring back new technologies and invaluable business, IT and industrial experience. New blood for our industry and business.

OCI is working very well for INDIA, no reason why an OCM scheme will not work for MAURITIUS! In both cases (as indeed for a few counties such as the attachment of Americans of Irish origin to mother Ireland!), based on the longstanding attachment to the country of origin. It will surely be more acceptable than, for example, alternate schemes such as the sale of passport and citizenship to build a Sovereign fund. In an era when USA and Europe are strongly reviewing their immigration policies, Mauritius should review its own immigration and foreign workers’ policy. And include this new, beneficial Overseas Citizen of Mauritius, OCM scheme.