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Overseas Citizens of India (OCI)

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Overseas Citizens of India (OCI):


Context:

Union Home Ministry has clarified that the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) will not be required to register for a fresh OCI card every time a new passport is issued in their name.

Background:

At present, the OCI card is required to be reissued each time a new passport is issued up to 20 years of age and once after completing 50 “in view of biological changes in the face of the applicant”.

As per the latest changes:

  1. A person who has got registration as OCI cardholder prior to attaining the age of 20 years will have to get the OCI card reissued only once when a new passport is issued after his/her completing 20 years of age, so as to capture his/her facial features on attaining adulthood.
  2. If a person has obtained registration as OCI cardholder after attaining the age of 20 years, there will be no requirement of reissue of the OCI card.

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.

Eligibility:

Government of India allows the following categories of foreign nationals to apply for OCI Card.

eligible

Exceptions:

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:

  1. Lifelong Visa to visit India multiple times. (special permission needed for research work in India).
  2. No need to register with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay.
  3. 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.
  4. Same treatment as of NRIs in respect to Inter-country adoption of Indian children.
  5. Also treated at par with NRIs regarding – entry fees for national monuments, practice of professions like doctors, dentists, nurses, advocates, architects, Chartered Accountants & Pharmacists.
  6. At par with NRIs to participate in All India Pre-medical tests and such.
  7. Treated at par with Indian citizens in matters of traffic in airfares in Indian domestic sectors.
  8. Same entry fee as for Indians for entry into India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
  9. 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:

  1. Do not have right to vote.
  2. Do not have right to any public service/government jobs
  3. 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.
  4. Cannot own agricultural property.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Definition of Citizen.
  2. POI vs OCI vs NRI.
  3. Who can grant and revoke citizenship?
  4. Dual citizenship in India.
  5. Applicability of right to vote and contest in elections for OCI card holders.
  6. Can OCI holders buy agricultural land?
  7. Who cannot be issued OCI cards?

Mains Link:

Who are overseas citizens of India? What are the benefits available for OCI card holders? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.