In Focus: Overseas Citizenship of India

  • The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is an immigration status permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely.
  • It was introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005, in response to the demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries.

Eligibility:

  • To apply for and use an OCI document, a holder must be a citizen of and hold a passport of another country
  • 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 or after January 26, 1950 or was eligible to become a citizen of India on January 26, 1950.
    • Belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15 August 1947
    • Based on parenthood:
      • Is a child or a grandchild or a great-grandchild of such a citizen.
      • Is a minor child of such persons mentioned above.
      • Is a minor child and whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India.

    • For a Spouse:
      • 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.
      • The said marriage should have been registered and subsisted (in existence) for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application.


Ineligibility

  • An applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents, grandparents or great grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • Persons who served as a member of any foreign military are also ineligible to receive an OCI card.

Privileges under OCI

  • Multiple-entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India.
  • Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India.
  • Parity (Equality in status) with non-resident Indians in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
  • They can open special bank accounts in India and also apply for a driver’s license and PAN card.
  • If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she iseligible to apply for Indian citizenship.

Restrictions under OCI

  • As the Constitution of India prevents Indian citizens from holding dual citizenship, the OCI is not actual citizenship of India according to Indian law and has the following limitations:
    • OCIs do not have the right to vote.
    • OCIs 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.
    • OCIs do not have the right to any public services (government jobs).
    • OCIs do not have the right to hold farmland (agricultural property).

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