Topics Covered: Indian diaspora.
Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)
What to study?
For Prelims: Who are OCI cardholders, eligibility and benefits.
For Mains: Need for and significance of OCI.
Why in News?
Thousands of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders have been forced to cancel trips to India owing to the recent ban on their entry by the GOI and are apprehensive they will not be able to get back in the event of an emergency.
Who are OCI cardholders?
Government of India launched the ‘Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme’ by making amendments to Citizenship Act, 1955 in 2005.
On 09 January 2015, the Government of India discontinued the PIO card and merged it with OCI card.
Government of India allows the following categories of foreign nationals to apply for OCI Card.
Anyone who is applying for OCI card should hold a valid Passport of another country.
- Individuals who do not have citizenship of any other country are not eligible to gain an OCI status.
- Individuals whose parents or grandparents hold citizenship of Pakistan and Bangladesh are not eligible to apply.
Benefits for OCI cardholders:
- Lifelong Visa to visit India multiple times. (special permission needed for research work in India).
- No need to register with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay.
- Except for acquisition of agricultural and plantation properties, OCI card holders have similar facilities that are extended to NRIs in economic, financial and educational fields.
- Same treatment as of NRIs in respect to Inter-country adoption of Indian children.
- Also treated at par with NRIs regarding – entry fees for national monuments, practice of professions like doctors, dentists, nurses, advocates, architects, Chartered Accountants & Pharmacists.
- At par with NRIs to participate in All India Pre-medical tests and such.
- Treated at par with Indian citizens in matters of traffic in airfares in Indian domestic sectors.
- Same entry fee as for Indians for entry into India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
- OCI booklet can be used as identification to avail services. An affidavit can be attached with local address as residential proof.
There are certain restrictions placed on OCI card holders:
- Do not have right to vote.
- Do not have right to any public service/government jobs
- Cannot hold offices of – Prime Minister, President, Vice -President, Judge of Supreme Court and High Court, member of Parliament or Member of state legislative assembly or council.
- Cannot own agricultural property.
- Definition of Citizen.
- POI vs OCI vs NRI.
- Who can grant and revoke citizenship?
- Dual citizenship in India.
- Applicability of right to vote and contest in elections for OCI card holders.
- Can OCI holders buy agricultural land?
- Who cannot be issued OCI cards?
Who are overseas citizens of India? What are the benefits available for OCI card holders? Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.