Overseas Citizenship of India
Non-resident Indians can apply for Overseas Citizenship of India. The main benefit of an OCI Card is lifelong visa-free travel to India.
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What is an OCI Card?
The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme was introduced by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005. The Scheme provides for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) of all Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) who were citizens of India on 26 January 1950 or thereafter or were eligible to become citizens of India on 26 January 1950 except those who are or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify.
Despite the name, OCI is commonly misconstrued as Indian ‘dual citizenship’. It is important to know that an OCI is more of a life-long visa as opposed to citizenship. Also, an OCI does not infer any political rights on an applicant, such as the right to vote.
The Constitution of India does not permit dual citizenship for citizens of India. Indian authorities have interpreted the law to mean a person cannot have a second country’s passport simultaneously with an Indian one.
OCI Card is a multiple entry life-long visa which enables the holder to have unlimited travel and stay in India. The OCI documents consist of OCI Registration Booklet and a Universal visa sticker. It is mandatory for registered OCIs to carry their passports which carry the Universal visa sticker for entry into / exit from India.
A registered Overseas Citizen of India is granted multiple entry, multi purpose, life-long visa for visiting India, he/she is exempted from registration with Foreign Regional Registration Officer or Foreign Registration Officer for any length of stay in India, and is entitled to general ‘parity with Non-Resident Indians in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial and educational fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties’. Specific benefits/parity is notified by the Ministry from time to time.
How do I get an OCI Card?
OCI is an online process. The applicant needs to fill up the OCI Application Form Online. After filling up the online OCI application, the applicant has to take out the print of the application and submit two sets of application forms with prescribed documents and fees to the designated VFS Centre.
Feel free to contact our team for a free assessment for your OCI card application today.
The OCI document is a passport-like document (though it is not a passport). It has a blue cover with golden coloured printing. The Emblem of India is emblazoned in the centre of the front cover.
Eligibility for an OCI Card
The Government of India, on application, may register any person as an Overseas Citizen of India, if the person:
- was a citizen of India on 26 January 1950 or at any time thereafter; or
- belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15 August 1947; or
- was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26 January 1950; or
- is a child or a grandchild or a great-grandchild of such a citizen; or
- is a minor child of such persons mentioned above; or
- is a minor child and whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India; or
- is a spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder registered under section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application
No person, who or either of whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan & Bangladesh, is eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India. Persons who served as a member of any foreign military are also ineligible to receive an OCI card.
OCI Card Benefits
An OCI cardholder will be eligible for the following benefits:
- Multiple entries, multi-purpose life-long visa-free to visit India. Life long denotes to 100 years from the date of birth
- Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India
- Equality with NRIs in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
- An OCI Card can be used as identity proof for a application of a PAN Card and driving licence as well as for opening a bank account if the OCI cardholder is residing in India.
Though not actual dual citizenship, the privileges afforded by acquiring an OCI card is that now multinational companies are finding it simpler to hire OCI cardholders, who enjoy multiple entries, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India. The card provides a lifelong visa to the holder, sparing them the need for permits. Many companies are following an active policy of moving PIOs to India for business expansion.
We can help you with your OCI Card application, contact our experts today for a free assesment
What benefits are not permitted with an OCI card?
Overseas Citizens of India are not citizens of India from a constitutional point of view and will not enjoy the following rights even if resident in India:
- they do not have the right to vote
- they do not have the right to invest in farmland (agricultural property). However, they can still inherit farmland.
- they do not have the right to hold the offices of Prime Minister, President, Vice-President, Judge of Supreme Court and High Court, member of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Legislative Assembly, or Council
- they do not have the right to any public services (government jobs)
How much does an OCI Card cost?
VFS handles OCI application on behalf of the Indian Government, the fees for an OCI card application are as follows:
- £194.00 + £7.44 VFS fee for each new OCI application
- £21.00 + £7.44 VFS fee for changing any details in the card and linking of new passport with OCI.
- £73.00 + £7.44 VFS fee for lost/damaged OCI Card
- £66.00 + £7.44 VFS fee for conversion of PIO to OCI
United Kingdom and OCI
The British Home Office has confirmed that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s perspective on OCI status is that it is not a form of citizenship. As such, people with OCI are still eligible for consular assistance from the FCO whilst in India.
What is a PIO?
The predecessor to the OCI was the Persons of Indian Origin Card (PIO card). The PIO card was less effective than OCIs, and there was some criticism that holders of the more expensive PIO card were disadvantaged when the OCI scheme launched, that there was confusion of the differences between the two, and administration of the two independent schemes caused complexity and confusion.
PIO cardholders must apply to convert their existing cards into OCI cards. The Bureau of Immigration stated that it would continue to accept the old PIO cards as valid travel documents until 30 September 2020.