Indian Government Announces New Rules & Benefits For OCI Holders

In a missive released by the Home Ministry of India, Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) will have new rules to follow pertaining to certain activities. Special permissions will have to be sought for certain specific activities related to journalistic and religious gatherings and/or research.

OCI cardholders will have to take special permission from Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) before engaging in the specific activities mentioned in the official brochure published by the Ministry of Home Affairs. In the brochure, OCI card holders are deemed as “foreign nationals” and as such will be treated as foreign nationals for certain privileges.

Which Activities Are Restricted For OCI Holders In India?

The following activities need a special permit before OCI holders can engage in them within India. A special permit for these activities can be acquired from the Indian Mission abroad as well.

  • Research activities;
  • Missionary activities or Tabligh;
  • Mountaineering expeditions;
  • Internship with foreign missions; 
  • Visiting a prohibited, restricted or protected area marked such by the central government or,
  • Any form of journalistic activities

Do you need a Protected / Restricted Area Permit for India? Here’s how to get one

Other Requirements

Any change of address, either local or in the country of residence has to be notified to the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO). 

This includes changes to OCI card holder’s change of profession as well.

Penalties Against OCI Card Holders for Violating New Rules

The above new restrictions are applicable to OCI card holders when visiting India or partaking in any of these activities abroad under the India Mission.  Per, the Ministry of Home Affairs, an OCI cardholder is a foreign national holding a passport of a foreign country and is not a citizen of India.

Any violations or non-adherence to the new policies put in place will result in being blacklisted from India and not being allowed to enter in the future.

Passports will be seized and will need Consular intervention for release. Furthermore, a designated Indian authority has the right to make arrests in cases as determined by competent authority.

New Benefits For OCI Card Holders Announced By Indian Government

The missive also announced some new benefits for OCI Card holders effective immediately – 

  • Access domestic airfare tariffs similar to that of Indian nationals;
  • Access similar entry fees for national monuments, parks, historical sites, wildlife sanctuaries and museums in India;
  • Freedom from registering with Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in India. Previously, OCI card holders had to report to the local Police station if they intended to stay in India beyond 179 days in a 365-day period;
  • Share the same privileges as that of an NRI when it comes to adopting of Indian children. They will however, still be subject to comply with all adoption procedures laid out for inter-country adoptions;
  • OCI card holders will also be eligible to appear in all India entrance tests such as National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, Joint Entrance Examination (Mains);
  • They will also be eligible for academic admissions similar to that of an NRI

Current Benefits

Currently, the Home Ministry allows for OCI card holders to get multi-entry visits to India for any other activity besides the one outlined above. This acts as a lifelong visa for Indians with an OCI card. 

OCI card holders can continue pursuing professions like doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists in India

Additionally, OCI card holders may purchase or sale of immovable properties other than agricultural land including farm houses or plantation properties.