OCI stands for Overseas Citizenship of India. An OCI holder is a person who actually is a citizen of a foreign country having an Indian origin. It authorizes a foreign national of Indian origin to live and work in India for an indefinite time. It was launched by the Government of India to meet the demands of the Indians residing abroad who wanted dual citizenship.
Since India does not have the policy of dual citizenship, the Ministry of Home Affairs launched the OCI card in 2005, under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2005. The Constitution of India averts an Indian Citizen from having the citizenships of two countries simultaneously. The government came with the best alternative to this in the form of OCI for many Non-Residential Indians (NRIs) residing abroad.
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA TO APPLY FOR OCI
A person must satisfy the following criteria before applying for Overseas Citizenship of India that:
- He must be a citizen of a foreign nation along with having his roots connected to India. The person was a citizen of India on or before the advent of the constitution;
- He is a citizen of another nation, but he was entitled for the citizenship of India when the constitution came into existence;
- He is a citizen of foreign nation and hails from a territory that consolidated in India after the independence;
- He happens to be child or grandchild or great-grandchild of such a citizen;
- If he is under 18 years then his parents have to be either Indian citizens or one parent holds citizenship of India;
- He is married to a foreign origin of an Indian citizen or to a person with OCI.
- Any person who has the citizenship of Bangladesh or Pakistan cannot apply for the OCI. If a person has background of joining any foreign military is also not eligible for OCI.
BENEFITS OF HOLDING OVERSEAS CITIZENSHIP OF INDIA
There are countless benefits provided to the cardholders of Overseas Citizenship of India:
- Lifelong visa for countless entries and multi-purpose visits to India.
- Equality with NRIs on transnational adoption.
- Parity with Indian citizens in state affairs.
- Parity with Indian citizens in ticket prices for national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
- Immune from registration with local police for any further extent of stay in India
- Equality with NRIs taking further higher studies and pursuing professions in India such as: doctors, advocates, architects, Engineers and chartered accountants.
- OCI cardholders don’t need an employment visa to work in India and are allowed to work in the private sector too. Employment opportunities are available everywhere except in areas that require protected area permits and restricted area permits i.e., Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep Islands, and some parts in the state of Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand.
RESTRICTIONS ON OCIs
Possession of an Overseas Citizenship of India card signifies that Indian Citizenship has been abnegated and consequently, does not equate to holding a dual citizenship with India. The people with OCI are not eligible to do the following:
- Right to vote.
- Become a part of the Legislative bodies or the Parliament.
- Hold constitutional positions such as President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court, High Court, district courts & tribunals.
- Hold any kind of employment in the Government.
- Carry an Indian passport.
- Buy agricultural or plantation lands in India.
The OCI card needs to be re-issued every time a new passport is issued till 20 years of age and once after crossing 50 years of age, considering the biological changes in the face of the applicant.
HOW TO APPLY FOR OVERSEAS CITIZENSHIP OF INDIA (OCI)?
A person can apply online for an OCI card through the government website by logging in at https://passport.gov.in/oci. The given below documents are required:
- Duly filled and signed the application form.
- Proof of current or existing Citizenship.
- Evidential Proof of one’s own, parents, grand-parents or great-grandparents being citizens of India.
- Evidential proof of relationship as a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent, if they request their Indian origin as the basis for registration as an OCI cardholder.
- Evidential proof of being a spouse of a foreign origin of a citizen of India or an OCI cardholder.
- Latest passport size photo of the applicant.
- Signature, thumb& finger prints of the applicant.
- There is a prescribed fee that is required to pay when you submit the application for an OCI card through Indian embassies overseas and in India.