Travelers who qualify for an OCI Card (Overseas Citizens of India Card) must keep their card up to date.
The card allows easy entry into India whenever they return. OCI holders will want to make sure that they always have the card on them. Additionally, it must be valid, and it should not get stolen.
The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card grants overseas Indians long-term visa-free travel and stay in India. It gives them privileges typically not available to foreign nationals.
Please note that the OCI card does not provide dual citizenship. Instead, it allows people of Indian origin who have foreign citizenship to visit, live in, and work in India for as long as they want to be there.
India does not allow dual citizenship, so Indians living overseas cannot vote in elections, hold office, or buy certain types of property. However, it does allow them to move about the country freely, visit relatives, do business, attend school, and more.
The rules around who can get an OCI card are complex. Eligible people must hold passports and citizenship in other countries. Please note that the scheme excludes citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh. They must also have at least one of the following circumstances be true:
They were citizens of India on 26th January 1950 or eligible to become citizens any time after that.
They were citizens of a territory that became part of India at the time or after 15th August 1947. The rules apply to people who belong to territories that joined the sub-continent after the country became independent.
They are a child, grandchild, or great-grandchild of someone who qualifies under the circumstances listed above.
A minor child whose parents qualify under the circumstances listed above.
A minor child with one or both parents currently holding Indian citizenship.
Spouse of an Indian citizen or OCI cardholder with a registered marriage lasting at least two years. However, foreigners with OCI status through marriage lose this status upon divorce.
The following persons are eligible for registration as an overseas citizen on the following grounds:
Israeli citizens of Indian origin can obtain OCI even after serving in the Israel Defence Forces.
Dutch nationals of Surinamese origin up to the sixth generation (with ancestors from India in the 19th century) are eligible for it.
The following individuals cannot apply if:
They have any links (self or ancestors) with Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Service in a foreign military, unless mandated by home country law. Israeli citizens are exempted.
The card can be revoked on the following grounds:
Acquisition through fraud.
Display of unpatriotic acts.
Breaking the law leads to a minimum two-year jail term within five years of obtaining an overseas citizenship of India card.
Since 2019, authorities can revoke the card for violating any local laws, minor or major. However, the government ensures a hearing for the individual before deciding on revocation.
An OCI holder can voluntarily give up their status using the appropriate form. On renunciation, the status is also withdrawn from the minor children of the renouncer.
Those outside India will have to pay a USD 275 application fee, while applications from within the country will cost USD 220. They will need to have their current passport, with at least 6 months of validity, alongside proof that they qualify under one of the circumstances outlined above. The application will walk them through how to prove that they qualify for the OCI Card.
Once they apply, they will need to wait to hear back about their card status before they try to enter India. They will receive an email notification once their card has been approved, though it will take a bit longer to receive the document.
The following benefits are available to the cardholders:
They can enter India as often as they like and stay as long as they want without obtaining a visa.
They will also have parity with Indian citizens in everything except their ability to buy certain agricultural or plantation properties.
It can simplify travel for people with families in India or with business interests.
Registering with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) is unnecessary upon arrival in India.
There is no need to register for extended stays unless the cardholders change their permanent address or job.
They will have to pay the same domestic airfare as the Indian citizens.
They will be charged equal fees as the Indian citizens for entry to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, monuments, historical sites, and museums.
Cardholders can visit India for research after getting clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The disadvantages are as follows:
The cardholders are not considered citizens of India constitutionally.
They cannot vote.
They cannot hold positions like the Prime Minister, President, Vice President, Chief Minister, Governor, or Judge of Supreme or High Court, and other constitutional offices.
They are not eligible for government jobs.
They cannot purchase agricultural property but can inherit it.
They will need a protected area permit for certain activities and areas in India. They can't get an Inner Line Permit.
When applying for an OCI Card, there are several common mistakes that applicants must be mindful of to ensure a smooth and successful process. Applicants are advised to avoid the following mistakes:
Please do not fail to provide accurate and complete information in the application forms, which can lead to delays or rejection.
Inaccurate or outdated information, such as incorrect spellings of names, outdated addresses, or date discrepancies, can complicate the verification process.
Any improper or unclear photographs that do not meet the specified guidelines can result in application delays or outright rejection.
Some applicants may not be aware of the fee structure and payment methods, leading to incorrect or incomplete payments.
For a successful OCI Card application, applicants should give accurate information, follow application guidelines, and submit necessary documents and fees.
When applying for an OCI Card, submitting the required supporting documents to verify one's eligibility is crucial. These documents typically include:
A valid foreign passport demonstrating the applicant's current citizenship.
Applicants also need to provide proof of Indian origin. Documents such as birth certificates, previous Indian passports, or naturalization certificates establish their connection to India.
Applicants must submit relevant documents if they are basing their eligibility on a parent or grandparent. Documents such as birth certificates, previous Indian passports, or marriage certificates must be submitted to establish the relationship.
A marriage certificate is required for spouses of eligible OCI Card applicants.
Passport-sized photographs that meet the specific OCI Card guidelines are necessary.
Note: In some cases, the authorities may request further documentation depending on the individual's circumstances. By ensuring all the appropriate supporting documents are submitted with the application, applicants can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful OCI Card application process.
Holders of PIO cards must convert them to OCI cards by December 31, 2023. After this date, PIO cards will no longer be valid for travel to India. Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) are foreign citizens of Indian origin. The exceptions are citizens from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
PIO cards are being discontinued as they do not have the same security features as OCI cards. Moreover, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has mandated that all travel documents be machine-readable by 2023. After this, PIO cardholders may need a visa from an Indian embassy or consulate abroad.
Therefore, it is best for all PIO cardholders to convert their PIO cards to OCI cards as soon as possible.
If someone is an Indian citizen or a foreign national eligible for an OCI card and plans to travel to and stay in the country for an extended time, then an OCI card is the better choice. It provides them with more benefits and flexibility than an Indian visa.
If a foreign national is not eligible for it or only plans to travel to India for a short period, then an Indian visa is the better choice.
Disclaimer:Natvisa does not process OCI card applications. However, we can expedite the processing of your Indian e-visa.
Obtaining an Overseas Citizenship of India Card may appear complex. However, applicants can obtain it by fulfilling the criteria and providing accurate information and the required documents.
It acts as a bridge for individuals with Indian heritage, allowing them to maintain a connection with the country. Beneficiaries include former citizens of India and their descendants. The OCI card symbolizes these individuals' bond with the sub-continent, even if they're citizens of another country.