Since the Indian government does not allow multiple citizenship – i.e. no person can hold a full Indian citizenship along with a full citizenship of any other country simultaneously.
However, there were a lot of people of Indian origin who did not live on the mainland and could not have themselves registered as Indian citizens at the time of independence and the commencement of the Indian constitution.
Overseas Citizen of India is a status of citizenship offered to persons of Indian origin, if:
- They were a citizen of India on the 26th of January, 1950, or any time after that date.
- They were eligible to become citizens of India on the 26th of January, 1950.
- They were a part of a territory which became a part of the nation of India after the 15th of August, 1947.
- They are children or grandchildren of any person who fits any of the above descriptions.
- They are minor children, whose parents are Indian citizens (at least one parent).
- They are the spouses of a person who fits any of the above descriptions, and have been married for two continuous years.
Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card cannot be given to any person whose parents, grandparents, or great grandparents had been citizens of Bangladesh, Pakistan, or any other country that the Central Government specifies.
How Does A Person Register To Become An Overseas Citizen Of India?
People who wish to register to become Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders can only do so by filling out the application form online, through the portal present at https://passport.gov.in/oci.
The application form is present online, and this form should be downloaded, filled out, attached with the necessary documents, demand draft with the fee amount, and proofs of identity, and submitted at:
- Indian Mission or Post with jurisdiction over the applicant’s country of origin.
- Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in India, for applications being submitted within India.
A list of FRRO offices in India is given below:
|1.||FRRO, Amritsar Bureau of Immigration, D-123, Ranjit Avenue, Amritsar – 143001 Tel: 0183-2500464 Fax: 0183- 2500465 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh|
|2.||FRRO, Bangalore 5th Floor, ‘A’ Block, TTMC, BMTC Bus Stand Building, K.H.Road, Shantinagar, Bangalore- 560027 Tel.: 080-22218195 Fax: 080-22218196 Email: email@example.com||Karnataka|
|3.||FRRO, Chennai No.26, Shastri Bhawan Annexe Building, 26 Haddows Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai- 600006 Tel: 044-23454970 Fax: 044-23454971 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com||Tamilnadu, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar islands|
|4.||FRRO, Delhi, East Block VIII, Level 2, Sector-1, R.K.Puram, New Delhi – 110066 Tel.: 011-26711384 Fax: 011-26711348 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand|
|5.||FRRO, Goa Foreigners Branch, Goa Police Head Quarters, Opposite Azad Maidan, Panaji – 403001 Tel.: 0832-2428623 Fax: 0832-2428623 Email: email@example.com||Goa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli (However, till further orders, cases pertaining to Goa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli will be handled by the FRRO, Mumbai)|
|6.||FRRO, Hyderabad Bureau of Immigration, Room no.301, 3rd Floor, CGO Tower, Kabadiguda, Hyderabad. Tel.: 040-27900211; 040-27901022 Fax: 040-27900388 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh|
|7.||FRRO, Kochi (Cochin) 2nd Floor, Airlines Building, Cochin International Airport Ltd., Airport P.O., Kochi – 683111 Tel.: 0484-2611277 Fax: 0484-2611277 Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org||Kerala (excluding jurisdiction of other FRROs in Kerala)|
|8.||FRRO, Kolkata 237, A.J.C.Bose Road, Kolkata Tel.: 033-22900549 Email: email@example.com||West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura|
|9.||FRRO, Kozhikode (Calicut) 20/1305, Castle view, Thiruvannur Road, Panniyankara, Kallai P.O. Kozhikode – 673003 Tel: 0495-2323550 Fax: 0495-2323550 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com||Kerala (excluding jurisdiction of other FRROs in Kerala)|
|10.||FRRO, Lucknow 557, Hind Nagar, Kanpur Road, Near Old Chungi, Lucknow -226012 Tel: 0522-2432431 Fax: 0522-2432430 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand|
|11.||FRRO, Mumbai Annex-II Bldg, 3rd Floor, Badruddin Tayyabji Marg, Behind St.Xavier College, C.S.T., Mumbai – 400001 (Near CST Railway Station and the office is in the lane beside Times of India building) Tel.: 022-22621169 022-22621167 (OCI enquiry) Fax: 022-22620721 Email: email@example.com||Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Daman & Diu. Till further orders, cases pertaining to Goa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli will also be handled by the FRRO, Mumbai|
|12.||FRRO, Thiruvananthapuram T.C.14/1377, Vazhuthacaud, opposite Ganapati Temple, Thycaud P.O., Thiruvananthapuram – 14 Tel.: 0471-2333515 Fax: 0471-233514 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Kerala (excluding jurisdiction of other FRROs in Kerala) and Lakshadweep|
In order to apply to be registered as an Overseas Citizen of India and receive an OCI card, applicants will have to furnish the following documents:
- Proof of present citizenship: A copy of a valid passport of any country (except exempted countries) must be submitted along with the application. It should be noted that the passport in question must have a validity of at least 6 months at the time of submission for consideration for OCI registration.
- Copy of Visa: If the application is being submitted within the boundaries of India, then a copy of the Visa used by the applicant to enter India must also be submitted. It should be noted that Missionary visa and Mountaineering Visas will not be accepted for this purpose.
- Residential permit: If the application for OCI is being submitted in India, then the applicant will also have to submit a copy of his/her residential permit with at least 3 months validity at the time of application.
- Evidence of parents/grandparents/self: Any form of legally recognized documentation issued by a competent authority must be submitted that establishes the identity of the applicant, such as those which establish that:
- The applicant is/was a citizen of India at any time after the Indian Constitution came into force on the 26th of January, 1950.
- The applicant is/was a eligible to become a citizen of India at the time when the Indian Constitution commenced on the 26th of January, 1950.
- The applicant belonged to a territory that became a part of India after independence on the 15th of August, 1947.
- Copy of the applicant’s Indian passport.
- Copy of a Domicile Certificate issued to the applicant by a competent authority.
- OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) or PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card belonging to the parents or spouse of the applicant, along with a copy of the base documents upon which the card was initially issued.
- Certificate of residence of parents, grandparents, spouse or self, issued by the First Class Magistrate or District Magistrate of the area.
- Certificate of birth of parents, grandparents, spouse or self, issued by the First Class Magistrate or District Magistrate of the area.
A birth certificate is the best way to fulfil this requirement. The birth certificate must mention the names of one or both parents (of Indian origin), and the parents birth certificate must mention the name of one or both grandparents (of Indian origin). If the birth certificate has been issued by an authority in a foreign country, the same will have to be endorsed by the concerned Indian Mission or Post in that country.
- One copy of the child’s birth certificate.
- Copy of the passports of the Indian parent. If this is not available, a copy of the Domicile Certificate issued by a competent authority in respect of the parents must be submitted. If this too is not available, a copy of the Nativity Certificate issued by a competent authority in respect of the parents must be submitted.
- If the parents are divorced, a court order of dissolution of marriage must be submitted. The parent in whose legal custody the child has been left must submit all the necessary documents.
- Official registered certificate of marriage.
- Copy of the Indian Passport of the Indian spouse. Or
- Copy of the Domicile Certificate issued by a competent authority in respect of the Indian spouse. Or
- Copy of the Nativity Certificate issued by a competent authority in respect of the Indian spouse.
- Copy of the valid passport of the spouse.
- Copy of the OCI card of the OCI spouse.
- Copies of the documents based on which the spouse was issued an OCI card.
Photograph To Be Submitted Along With OCI Application
When submitting the application for OCI status or OCI card, photographs of the applicant must also be submitted. These photographs must strictly adhere to the following guidelines:
- Square shaped photographs of no less than 51mm x 51mm.
- At least 80% coverage of the photograph must be the applicant’s face.
- Background should be of a plain, light colour (but not pure white).
- Applicant’s full head and shoulders should be visible, with the face unobstructed and in the middle of the photograph.
- No signs, staples, markings, ink or signatures must be on the surface of the photograph.
Application Fee For OCI Card
If the application for OCI status is being submitted abroad (i.e. in a country that is not India): The application must be submitted at the concerned Indian Mission or Post along with a Demand Draft (DD) for USD275 – or the equivalent in the relevant local currency.
If the application for OCI status is being submitted in India: The application must be submitted with a Demand Draft for Rs.15,000 drawn in favour of “Pay and Accounts Officer (Secretariat), Ministry of Home Affairs” payable at New Delhi.
General Instructions On Applying For The OCI Card:
- At the time of submitting the OCI application at the Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India, the applicant will have to submit copies of the documents mentioned above.
- At the time of collecting the actual OCI card from the Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India, the applicant will have to produce the original documents (of which copies were submitted at the time of submitting the application) for verification purposes.
- Once the process is moved online, applicants will only have to upload self-attested photocopies of the required documents along with their applications.
OCI (Overseas Citizen Of India) Application For PIO (Person Of Indian Origin) Cardholders:
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification on 9/1/2015 which stated that all persons holding a valid PIO Card as on 9/1/2015 would be deemed to be Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders.
PIO Cardholders will only have to upload or submit the following documents along with their application:
- Copy of the PIO Card.
- Copy of the applicant’s valid passport.
The approval and subsequent grant of the OCI card for PIO cardholders will be on a gratis basis.
The OCI card for persons holding PIO cards will be issued by the relevant Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India – which has jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence.
The PIO card will have to be surrendered in exchange for the OCI card at Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India that processes the application.
OCI Registration Process
For regular applications (i.e. not applications from spouses of OCI cardholders)
Regular applications for OCI status will be processed first by security agencies who append their comments, observations, and eventually clearance on the online portal, after performing their due diligence on all details of the applicant’s claimed antecedents. This process is done within 20 days of the application being received by the Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India.
If any adverse information has been found about the applicant during the preliminary investigation by the Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India, the Ministry of Home Affairs must be intimated and prior approval must be sought before granting OCI registration. The Ministry of Home Affairs, in such cases, may approve or reject the grant of registration within a period of 120 days from the date on which the Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India received the application. If the Ministry of Home Affairs grants the registration, the Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India can register the applicant as an OCI cardholder.
If the security agencies do not (or are unable for whatever reason) to perform their due diligence on the claimed antecedents of the applicant within 20 days, the Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India will register the applicant as an OCI cardholder within 30 days of the receipt of the application – only if no adverse information against the applicant has been found during primary scrutiny.
It should be noted that if and when any adverse information is presented to the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding a particular applicant who has had his/her OCI status approved, the Ministry of Home Affairs has the authority to cancel the OCI card issued by any Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India. This is possible through Section 7D of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
For Applications Submitted By Foreign-Origin Spouses Of OCI Cardholders:
Registration of a foreign-origin spouse of an OCI cardholder will only be processed after proper clearance has been granted from the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division).
The Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) will have to adhere to the terms of Clause (D) of Sub-Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 as incorporated by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015, notified on 10th March, 2015.
For these applications, the concerned security agencies will compile their comments, observations, and clearances together on the online system within 21 days of the acknowledgement of the receipt of the OCI application. The final comments of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) will then be uploaded on the same portal within 30 days.
In case the concerned security agencies feel that further investigation or a detailed inquiry into any aspect of the applicant’s antecedents is required, they have the authority to place that particular application in “On-Hold” status, until the inquiry or investigation is completed. This can also happen in cases where the security agency concerned is unable to complete the verification process within the 21 day period.
For Applications Submitted By Erstwhile PIO (Person Of Indian Origin) Cardholders Who Had Valid PIO Cards As On 9/1/2015:
The Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India will first conduct investigations to determine whether the PIO Card is authentic, and then later issue their clearance to each individual application of this type.
If the PIO card was issued by a different Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India than the one to which the OCI application has been sent, the PIO issuing Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India will have to send the OCI issuing authority details regarding the genuineness of the PIO card in question. The Indian Mission abroad, Indian Post abroad, or FRRO in India that issued the PIO card is expected to finish this part of the process within 14 days.
Issue Of The OCI Card
Once all the formalities and scrutiny has been completed to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Home Affairs, a booklet will be issued to the applicant, which serves as a multiple entry Visa to India, valid for the lifetime of the OCI cardholder.
The ‘U’ Visa sticker (Universal Visa) sticker on the foreign passport of OCI cardholders has been dispensed with, following a directive sent out on 29th January, 2015 to all Indian Missions abroad, Indian Posts abroad, and FRROs in India.
Cancellation Of OCI Registration
If it is found that any misrepresented, false, or fraudulent information was presented during the application for OCI, the Ministry of Home Affairs will render the OCI registration invalid and the OCI status of that particular individual will stand cancelled.
The OCI status can also be cancelled if the OCI cardholder shows disaffection towards the Indian Constitution, or comes under any of the provisions of Section 7D of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
Having OCI registration cancelled for whatever reason will not only repeal the benefits offered, but will also place the individual on a blacklist, ensuring that he/she will can travel to India legally again.
What Are The Benefits Of Being An Overseas Citizen Of India?
There are many benefits associated with being an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), some of which are:
- OCI Card acts as a Multiple-entry Visa with lifelong validity. OCI cardholders can travel to India at any time, and for any purpose except to conduct research, which requires an additional permit.
- OCI cardholders need not register themselves with the regional FRRO upon entry into India. This rule applies for any length of stay in India.
- All facilities available to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are extended to include OCI cardholders. Economic, financial, and educational facilities are made available, and OCI cardholders are equal in all terms to NRIs, except in matters relating to the acquisition of plantation or agricultural properties.
- In all matters relating to inter-country adoption of children, registered OCI cardholders will be treated on par with NRIs.
- OCI cardholders are treated on par with NRIs in all matters relating to tariffs on airfares in the domestic sectors in India.
- The same entry fees will be charged to OCI cardholders as that which is charged to domestic Indian visitors at wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, etc. in India.
- Equality and parity with NRI-status individuals in all matters relating to entry fees at national monuments, museums, historically relevant locations, etc.
- Equality and parity with NRI-status individuals in all matters relating to the pursuit of specializations and professions in India, like in the medical field as doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, etc. or in the legal field as lawyers, or in the commercial space as architects or chartered accountants.
- Equality and parity with NRI-status individuals for appearing for the All-India Pre-Medical Test or any other test that is required to gain eligibility for admission to pursue any provision contained within any relevant Act.
- OCI cardholders are eligible to apply for the grant of an Indian citizenship under Section 5(1) (g) of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. This is possible provided that the OCI cardholder has held the OCI status for 5 consecutive years and has maintained an ordinary resident status in India for 12 months preceding the application for citizenship.
It Should Be Noted At This Point That There Are Some Limitations For OCI Cardholders:
- OCI cardholders are not allowed to vote for any party in any election in India.
- OCI cardholders are not allowed to become members of the Indian Legislative Assembly or Indian Legislative Council.
- OCI cardholders are not allowed to hold constitutional posts in the Indian government such as that of a judge (of the Indian Supreme Court or any Indian High Court), or president, or vice-president.
- OCI cardholders are not allowed to hold any post in the public services, or posts that are in any way connected to the workings of the Union, or any State – unless such an appointment has been specially cleared by special order from the Central Government of India.
- OCI cardholders are not allowed to purchase and own agricultural properties or plantation properties in India.
Re-Issue And Updating Of The OCI Card
There are two specific instructions regarding the updating and re-issue of an OCI card, which are:
- OCI registration must be re-issued in cases where the cardholder’s passport is being issued up to the age of 20, and once again after the age of 50 – to ensure that the OCI card stays up to date with the physical and biological changes in the appearance of the cardholder.
- OCI registration need not be re-issued every time a new passport is issued if the cardholder is between 21 and 49 years of age, but, it can be re-issued if the cardholder so desires.
What’s The Difference Between An NRI, A Person Of Indian Origin (PIO) And An Overseas Citizen Of India (OCI)?
|Parameter||NRI (Non-Resident Indian)||PIO (Person of Indian Origin)||OCI (Overseas Citizen of India)|
|Definition||NRIs are Indian citizens, who hold an Indian passport, and who have a permanent residence outside India.||PIOs are those persons who have ancestral roots to India, by way of their parents, grandparents, or great grandparents having been Indian Nationals. PIOs hold nationality, citizenship, and passports of foreign countries. They are foreign passport holders whose ancestors were Indian Nationals.||OCI cardholders are those individuals who have ancestral roots in India, or are of Indian origin, and who hold a registered Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card which is valid under Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.|
|Eligibility||n/a||n/a||The following types of foreign nationals are eligible to register as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI):
|Application||n/a||n/a||Online applications can be filled out and submitted at https://passport.gov.in/oci.
Individuals who wish to apply for OCI status can do so by following these steps:
|Relevant Fees||n/a||n/a||For applications submitted at Indian Missions or Posts abroad, the fee for application is USD275 or its equivalent in the local currency of the applicant’s country of residence. For applications submitted in India at an FRRO, the fee is Rs.15,000.|
|Is a Visa required to enter India?||No.||Yes.||No Visa required for life, multiple entries allowed.|
|Is the traveler required to register with local police upon entering India?||No.||Yes, for period of stay exceeding 180 days at a stretch.||No.|
|Limits or restrictions on activities being performed or carried out in India?||No restrictions.||The only activities that can be performed or conducted in India are those that are specified and outlined by the type of Visa.||No restrictions.|
|Is it possible to obtain full Indian citizenship?||NRIs are already Indian Citizens.||Application for full Indian citizenship can be submitted only after the individual has been residing in India for a period of no less than 7 consecutive years.||Application for full Indian citizenship can be submitted only after the individual has been a registered OCI cardholder for a period of no less than 5 consecutive years, and has maintained ordinary resident status in India for a period of no less than 12 months.|