Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is given to Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) who emigrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country other than Bangladesh or Pakistan. Such people are eligible for OCI only if their home country allows dual citizenship in some form or other under local laws.

OCI& PIO Merge

The Indian government has merged OCI and PIO with the intention of maximizing citizen benefits and consolidating the immigration norms for overseas Indians. This amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955 incorporates the eligibility and additional benefits of PIO in OCI.

All PIO cards issued prior to 9th January 2015 are deemed OCI cards. The rights and benefits available to OCIs will now be extended to existing PIO card holders.

Applicants now may only apply for an OCI card, since the PIO card scheme is no longer in existence.

Eligibility for OCI

The following person(s) are eligible for OCI. The applicant should be a foreign national who:

  • was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January 1950 provided his/her country of citizenship allows dual citizenship in some form or other under the local laws.
  • was a citizen of India on or at any time after 26th January 1950.
  • belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15th Aug 1947 such as Sikkim, Pondicherry, Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Goa, Daman, and Diu.
  • is a child, grandchild, or great grandchild of a person who meets any of the above listed criteria.
  • is a child of a Pakistani or Bangledeshi citizen, married to a peron eligible for OCI registration.
  • is the spouse of foreign origin of an Indian citizen or OCI card holder whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately preceding the date of application for OCI card.

Exceptions to OCI Eligibility:

  • If the applicants have been citizens of Pakistan of Bangladesh they will not be eligible for OCI.
  • A citizen of the above mentioned countries who is married to a person eligible for OCI is not eligible for OCI registration.
  • Temporary visa holders like B1/B2 are not eligible for OCI.

Benefits of OCI

There are many benefits associated with holding Overseas Citizenship of India:

  • Multiple entries and multi-purpose life long visa to visit India.
  • Parity with NRIs on inter-country adoption.
  • Equality with resident Indian nationals in domestic affairs.
  • Equality with Indian nationals in entry fees for national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Exemption from registration with local police authorities for any length of stay in India.
  • Parity with NRIs pursuing professions in India such as: doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, advocates, architects, and chartered accountants.
  • OCI holders do not require employment visa to work in India and may work in a private sector. Employment opportunities except areas that require protected area permits and restricted area permits.

Any other benefits to OCI card holders will be notified by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) under Section 7B(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Limitations of OCI

Having an OCI card does not equate to having a dual with citizenship with India. India does not allow dual citizenship. OCI card holders cannot do the following:
  • Vote
  • Become a member of a Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council or the Parliament.
  • Hold constitutional posts such as President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court, or High Court.
  • Hold employment in the Government.
  • Hold an Indian passport.
  • Purchase agriculture or plantation properties in India.

OCI Card for Minor

The eligibility, criteria, and the process is the same for minors as it as for other OCI applicants. However, there are additional things to know about the minor application.

  • Parents' signatures are not acceptable for a minor child. A child below 5 years can give a thumbprint and a child above 5 should sign under the photographs.
  • Notarized signature of both the parents should be on the form. If both the signatures are not notarized, the application process may be delayed or rejected.
  • One of the parents should have foreign nationality and should be eligible for OCI before applying for OCI for his/her minor children.
  • If one of the parents of the minor children is/has been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, their children are not eligible for OCI.

OCI Card for Adult/Minor PIO Card Holders

If PIO card holders both adult and minor want to apply for the OCI card they must surrender their PIO cards. Additional fee may apply for the process. The PIO card holder must submit a notarized copy of the PIO card with the OCI application. The eligibility, criteria, procedure, and other documents required are the same as for a new PIO card.

Renunciation of OCI Card

The process for renunciation of an OCI card is the similar to applying for a new OCI card. However, the applicant has to fill a few additional forms:

Lost/Damaged OCI Card

The process and documents required for a lost or damaged OCI card are the same as that for a new OCI card. If the OCI card is lost or damaged, the applicant must apply for re-issue of the OCI card. Certain documents are required:

  • 2 sets of all the documents are required.
  • Original OCI card if it has been damaged.
  • The applicant will have to file a police complaint and a copy of the report needs to be submitted to the CKGS office.
  • The applicant may have to appear for an interview at an Embassy or Consulate.
  • The applicant needs to complete the OCI miscellaneous form. https://passport.gov.in/oci/

The following information is needed to complete the miscellaneous form.

  • U-visa number or OCI Registration Number or OCI file number.
  • Current Passport number, date of birth, place of birth, and Mother's name.

The information provided must match the information given in the original OCI card form, otherwise the applicant may not be able to proceed.

  • After the selection of the desired service the applicant complete fill the form.
  • The form must be printed and signed.

Miscellaneous Services Offered for OCI Card

CKGS offers miscellaneous services for OCI card holders. Miscellaneous services offered are:

  • OCI card for a new passport
  • Change of personal details like nationality, name change, date of birth, etc.
  • Loss or damage of OCI card
  • Change of address or occupation
  • Change of appearance
  • Entering wrong information while filling the online application form
  • Passport Match up

The applicant must fill out the OCI miscellaneous form. https://passport.gov.in/oci/ in addition to the regular forms and documents required for a new OCI card application.
In order to fill the miscellaneous form certain information is needed:

  • U-visa number or OCI Registration Number or OCI file number.
  • Current Passport number, date of birth, place of birth and Mother's name are needed.

The information provided has to match the information given in the original OCI card form otherwise the applicant may not be able to proceed. After the selection of the desired service the applicant can fill the form. The form has to be printed and signed. If the service desired is for change of address or occupation no form will be generated. The data entered about the new address or occupation will be printed and the applicant can keep it for the records. For the passport match-up the applicant's US passport that will be used for match-up with the OCI card is required.

Re-issue of OCI card

If a new passport is issued, an OCI holder should apply for re-issue of his OCI card. The procedure is the same as applying for a new OCI card. The following guidelines apply.

  • An applicant who is 20 years of age or younger should apply for re-issue each time a new passport is issued.
  • An applicant who is 50 or older should apply for re-issue once after the new passport is issued.
  • Applicants who are between 21 to 49 years of age need not apply for re-issue every time a new passport is issued. They can ask for re-issue out of choice if they want the OCI documents to carry the correct passport number.

OCI vs. PIO Card

An individuals may not hold both PIO and OCI. They are mutually exclusive services. The advantages and disadvantages of OCI and PIO are discussed below.

  • An OCI card entails lifelong validity of visa-free travel to India whereas for a PIO cardholder, the maximum validity period is 15 years.
  • A PIO card holder is required to register with local police authority for any stay exceeding 180 days in India on any single visit whereas an OCI card holder is exempted from such registration for any length of stay in India.
  • The PIO card can be applied for a spouse of a person of Indian origin but the OCI card cannot be applied for the spouse.
  • If you are a PIO, you need to reside in India for minimum 7 years before applying for Indian citizenship. Whereas, a person registered as an OCI is eligible to apply for Indian citizenship under section 5(1) (g) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 if he/she is registered as OCI for 5 years and has been residing in India for one year out of the five years before applying.

Tips for OCI card holders and applicants

  • Do not book the tickets for travel before getting the OCI Card and Passport in hand.
  • Arrange the documents according to the checklist.
  • Sign carefully in the assigned spaces.
  • Do not overwrite on the application form A after it is printed.
  • The OCI card holder should carry the OCI booklet and the passport with the "U" visa sticker while visiting India.
  • The OCI card holder should have knowledge about the guidelines for re-issue of an OCI card for a new passport.
  • Apply for Renunciation of Indian Citizenship after acquiring a non-Indian Passport. The renunciation and OCI can be applied together.

Common Reasons for Rejection of OCI Card

There are some common reasons the OCI may be rejected:

  • The documents are not provided in the order they appear in the Checklist.
  • Proof that renunciation of Indian Citizenship has been completed.
  • No proof or wrong proof of address provided.  Please remember only state ID, driver's license, and utility bills are acceptable proof of address.
  • Photocopy of Indian Passport for an adult applicant is not provided.
  • Parent's signature not provided in part B of Minor's application.
  • Copies of Indian passports of parents of a minor child are not provided.
  • Proof of name change is not provided if the name is different on both Indian and US passports.
  • No return shipping label or handwritten labels provided.

Disclaimer: Path2usa.com does not recommend or vouch for any of the websites given in this article. We aim to provide only a general overview of the process.