Overseas Citizenship of India: What it is?

OCI came into force in 2005

India introduced the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005. The Scheme provides for registration as Overseas Citizen of India.

Eligibility to register as OCI Cardholder

The following categories of foreign nationals are eligible to become Overseas Citizens of India:

  1. Who was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after the commencement of the Constitution i.e. 26.01.1950; or
  2. who was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26.01.1950; or
  3. who belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947; or (4) who is a child or a grandchild or a great grandchild of such a citizen; or
  4. who is a minor child of such persons mentioned above; or
  5. who is a minor child and whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India; or
  6. 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.

However, no person, who or either of whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.

Application to become an OCI

For registration as OCI Cardholder, the applicants have to submit the application form online and upload all the requisite documents (self-attested), photograph and signature (in the case of minors who cannot sign, left hand thumb impression) on the online system at https://passport.gov.in/oci.

The list of documents required along with other details needed for registration are available on the Brochure of Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India.

Renewal of OCI Card

The Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder registration is required to be got re-issued each time a new passport is issued up to the age of 20 years of age and once after completing 50 years of age in view of biological changes in the face of the applicant.

However re-issuance of the OCI Cardholder registration is not mandatory each time a new passport is issued between 21 and 50 years of age.

Benefits of becoming an OCI

A registered Overseas Citizen of India is granted multiple entry, multipurpose, 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.

He 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.

OCI cardholder is not entitled to following things

OCI is not equivalent to dual citizenship in any manner.

OCI does not confer political rights to vote, to be a member of a Legislative Assembly or of a Legislative Council or of the Parliament of India, to hold Indian constitutional posts such as that of the President, Vice President, Judge of the Supreme Court or High Court etc,

He/she cannot normally hold employment in the Government, to undertake any Missionary work, Mountaineering and Journalism work without prior permission of the Govt. of India.

OCI cardholder shall also require Protected Area Permit (PAP)/Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to visit any place which falls within the Protected/Restricted Area notified by the Government as in the case of any other foreigner.

Renunciation of OCI

If any overseas citizen of India of full age and capacity makes in the prescribed manner a declaration renouncing his OCI card, the declaration shall be registered by the Central Government, and upon such registration, that person shall cease to be an overseas citizen of India.

Where a person ceases to be an OCI, every minor child of that person registered as an overseas citizen of India, shall thereupon cease to be an overseas citizen of India.

Cancellation of registration as OCI

The Central Government may, by order, cancel the registration granted if it is satisfied that the registration as an overseas citizen of India was obtained by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact, the overseas citizen of India has shown disaffection towards the Constitution of India as by law established.

If the overseas citizen of India has, during any war in which India may be engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy or been engaged in, or associated with, any business or commercial activity that was to his knowledge carried on in such manner as to assist an enemy in that war, his OCI registration will be cancelled.

The registration will be cancelled if the overseas citizen of India has, within five years after registration has been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years.

Similarly, it will be cancelled if it is necessary so to do in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or in the interests of the general public.

Further reference

  1. Website of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
  2. Indian laws relating to OCI Cardholders
  3. Frequently asked questions relating to OCI Cardholders