Until 2005, the Indian government did not permit dual citizenship, and this prevented many people of Indian descent from living and working in India. In response, the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2005 was passed. The 2005 act created the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) category to allow foreign citizens of Indian origin to live and work in India.
Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is a form of permanent residency available to people of Indian origin and their spouses which allows them to live and work in India indefinitely. As of 2020, there are 6 million holders of OCI cards among the Indian Overseas diaspora.
As a result of Indian emigration, over 15.6 million people of Indian descent live outside the Republic of India. Many of these people wish to visit or return to India, and they can do so by obtaining the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) immigration status.
OCI is a lifelong visa to live and work in India as any other Indian citizen or NRI. But unlike visitors on other long-term visas (for example, work permits, student visas), OCI holders do not have to register with their local FRRO. OCI holders, just like NRIs, can open bank accounts and buy property in the country.
OCI status was created specifically for Indian emigrants, and anyone of Indian descent can apply. We put together this article to give you a detailed guide of the OCI process: where to apply, how to apply, how long it takes, and everything else necessary.
Who are eligible?
You may be eligible for OCI if any of the following conditions apply:
- You were a citizen of India at any time between now and January 26, 1950.
- You were a citizen of a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947.
- You were eligible to become a citizen of India on January 26, 1950.
- You are the child or grandchild of an individual to whom any of the above conditions applied.
- You are a child with one parent who is a citizen of India.
- You are the spouse of an Indian citizen or OCI cardholder and have been married for at least two years prior to applying for an OCI card.
How to apply for OCI?
The applicants shall submit the OCI application form online by visiting https://ociservices.gov.in/
Applicants are required to upload all OCI supporting documents online along with photograph and signature ( in case of minors left thumb impression)
An OCI application submitted online for more than 180 days cannot be accepted at VFS. In such a case, applicants are required to refill the online application again.
The applicant then submits a duly signed application form (ensuring uploading of all supporting documents), 1 photograph, 2 pre-paid self-addressed envelopes at the nearest VFS center with prior appointment only from the link: https://www.hcilondon.gov.in/appointment/.
• For the help of our diaspora, applications for any service can be accepted at any place, i.e., London, Birmingham, and Edinburgh. So wherever you get an appointment, please go ahead and submit your application as per your convenience and choice, provided that the application is registered and filled up for that particular jurisdiction/center e.g. GBRL registration is for London and will be accepted only in London, GBRB for Birmingham and GBRE for Edinburgh.
• All the Original documents except the current passport need to be submitted along with the application. Fees will be charged by VFS (by Cash/Card) at the time of submission of application.
• After acknowledgment of the application at the High Commission, all the original documents submitted with the application will be returned in one of the self-addressed envelopes provided.
Photo should be the square shape of size not less than 51 X 51 mm (with 80% coverage of face). It should have a plain light color background (not white) without the border with a front view of the person’s head and shoulders showing a full face in the middle of the photograph. it should not be stapled and not have any signatures.
Signature – Height and width of the Signature Photo must-have aspect ratio of 1:3. If a child below 5 years is unable to sign, then thumb impressions (left hand) with Blue/Black Ink only will have to be uploaded. Minor children who are able to sign/write their names should do so and it should be uploaded. Parents need to sign in the relevant space in the application form.
|Fees details for OCI Applications: – S. No.
|Fees Charged (in £)
|New OCI application:
|PIO to OCI
|OCI renewal (Lost Case)
|Courier Fees per envelope
|(Charged by VFS if special delivery envelopes not provided by applicant)
|(Express one day delivery)
|£ 8.00 (3 days delivery)
Documents required for new/fresh OCI
For a new OCI the turnaround time is usually 4-6 weeks. Below are the documents required for new/fresh OCI.
- Passport with minimum 6 months validity
- Registered marriage certificate or equivalent proof
- Proof of employment with Job description, business proof, student proof etc
- Address proof
- Copy of appointment confirmation letter.
In addition to the above documents, applicants are required to provide the following documents depending upon the category under which they are applying.
- APPLYING ON OWN INDIAN ORIGIN- FORMER INDIAN PASSPORT HOLDER:
- Naturalization/registration certificate
- Surrender / renunciation certificate of Indian passport
- Copy of Indian passport
- APPLICANT BORN IN INDIA AND NEVER HELD INDIAN PASSPORT AND TRAVELLED ON PARENTS INDIAN PASSPORT OR OWN FOREIGN PASSPORT:
- Birth certificate with names of parents
- Exit permit/stay visa issued after birth in India and Exit stamps on passport when first left India or notary affidavit in original from UK stating the fact and how he/she travelled to UK.
- If born in India between 26 January, 1950 to 30 June, 1987: Birth Certificate issued by Indian Government. School Leaving Certificate (in original) (Matric and higher Board level Classes). Or Proof of Indian Origin of Applicant’s parents/Grand Parents/Great Grand Parents.
- APPLICANT BORN OUTSIDE INDIA AND NEVER HELD INDIAN PASSPORT – APPLYING ON THE BASIS OF PARENTS/ GRAND PARENTS/GREAT GRAND PARENTS
- Birth Certificate clearly indicating names of parents
- If applying on the basis of Grand Parents/Great Grand Parents, provide documents (Birth certificates or equivalent) to verify relationship among applicant, his/her Grand Parents/Great Grandparents.
- Proof of Indian Origin of Applicant’s parents/Grand Parents/Great Grand Parents
OCI APPLICATION IN CASE OF MINOR CHILD
- Mandatory documents and Documents mentioned in A/B/C above.
- Current passport copy of BOTH parents
- If parents are divorced: A Court order of dissolution of marriage and Child arrangement order which specifically mentions that the legal custody of the child is with the parent who is applying for the OCI card and that parent can take the child out of UK for any number of days. If both the parents share joint custody of the child, a duly notarized consent letter from both the parents to apply for OCI for child or a specific court order giving permission for issue of OCI to the child with one of the parent.
- In case of Live-in, adopted child and Surrogacy, all relevant documents need to be submitted with the application
Application for OCI under foreign spouse category – After at least 2 years of marriage – Turnaround time: 10-12 weeks
- Applicants own Birth Certificate confirming names of both parents.
- Registered marriage certificate.
- Current Passport of the spouse.
- Copy of the Indian Passport/OCI/PIO (first and last pages) of Spouse.
- Consent letter (duly signed and dated) from spouse to issue OCI on the basis of his/her own Indian origin duly signed/dated.
NEW RELAXED RULES ON RENEWAL OF OCI
- OCI Renewal is required only once when a new passport is issued after completing 20 years of age.
- Old rules to renew the OCI card each time the new passport is issued and after completing 50 years of age scrapped ( cancelled).
Most Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders are no longer required to have their OCI cards re-issued each time they obtain a new passport.
Exceptionally, those with OCI cards issued before the cardholder turned 20 years old only need to obtain a re-issued OCI card once when they obtain a new passport after reaching 20 years of age.
There are new requirements for OCI cardholders to notify the government when they obtain a new passport up to 20 years of age, after reaching 50 years of age, and for OCI cardholders married to Indian citizens or other OCI cardholders.
The relaxed OCI card re-issuance rules reduce the administrative burden of having to apply for a new OCI card and indicate the government’s relaxed approach following recent restrictions for OCI cardholders.
According to a change in law, Overseas citizens of India (OCI) cardholders are no longer required to have their OCI cards re-issued each time they obtain a new passport.
Previously, it was mandatory for OCI cards to be re-issued each time a cardholder 20 years of age or younger obtained a new passport, and also at least once after the cardholder obtained a passport after the age of 50.
Cards issued before holder turned 20. According to the new relaxed rule, those with OCI cards issued before the cardholder turned 20 years old only need to obtain a re-issued OCI card once when they obtain a new passport after reaching 20 years of age.
Cards issued after holder turned 20. OCI cardholders who obtained their OCI card after they turned 20 years of age no longer need to obtain a re-issued OCI card and can continue to use their existing card.
New passports are obtained after the holder turns 50. OCI cardholders who obtain new passports after the age of 50 are no longer required to have their OCI card re-issued.
Sometimes details to small things can save a lot of time with regard to the application submission and avoid rejection possibilities. Here are some of the tips that might help you while submitting the OCI application.
Photo should be provided in 51mm x 51 mm size( 2inch x 2 inches). Photo should be clear print and background should be clear too. Photo should be captured with a face front view and no shadows on the background. Full head from the top of the hair to the chin should be visible. Eyes should be open and if you are wearing glasses no glare on the glass.
Make sure to submit the same photo which is uploaded to be submitted along with the application.
The signature should be done big and use all the space available within the designated area of the application and be very clear. Very small, smudged, and very light signs will be rejected as well.
Children under 5 years can use a left-hand thumb impression with blue or black ink.
Delivery of OCI card
The OCI card will be couriered back to the applicants in a self-address envelope.
Application for OCI under foreign spouse category
Applicant applying under this category has to visit the VFS center along with his/her spouse for submitting the OCI application along with original documents and their copies. Interview in such cases will be taken over audio/video call by an officer from high commission after receipt of the application.
The government has permitted PIO cardholders to enter/ exit India till 31-12-2021. Kindly get your PIO converted into OCI as soon as possible.
Update of information: In case the existing cardholders need to update the latest information about his latest passport, change the address, contact details, etc they can select the required option and submit the documents. These services will be done without a fee.
Renewed OCI card with updated info: These can be availed for specific categories as per below.
1. In case of issuance of a new passport (once a new passport is issued after completing 20 years of age.)
2. In case of change of personal particulars viz. name, father’s name, nationality, etc.
3. In case of loss/damage of OCI registration certificate.
How can a Non-resident Indian (NRI) and an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) acquire immovable property in India?
the common questions for OCI cardholders are OCI holder selling property in India, OCI holder selling property in India, can OCI cardholder sell agricultural land in India, etc.
Use the link below for all the OCI latest news and OCI latest updates by RBI
Frequently Asked Questions about OCI (FAQs)
- Can OCI card holders get an Adhar card?
Yes, OCI cardholders can get an Aadhaar card if they have resided in India for a period of 182 days or more in one year immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment. Can an OCI get an Aadhar card? Yes, according to the Aadhaar Act, 2016, every resident can apply for an Aadhaar number.
- What are the benefits of OCI card?
The OCI card benefits refer to the rights you gain, like working, living, and entering India as many times as you want. One of the major drawbacks is that you must surrender your Indian passport as India doesn’t accept dual citizenship. Still, this is a chance for Indians to live and work abroad.
- Can OCI get Indian citizenship back?
Yes. As per the provisions of section 5(1) (g) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, a person who is registered as an OCI for 5 years and is residing in India for 1 year out of the above 5 years, is eligible to apply for Indian Citizenship
- Can OCI buy property in India?
OCI cardholders can purchase residential and commercial properties in India. Foreign national of non-Indian origin, resident outside India cannot purchase any immovable property in India unless such property is acquired by way of inheritance from a person who was resident in India
- Can OCI inherit property?
NRI/OCI can inherit any immovable property (including agricultural land, farmhouse, plantation property) from a Person resident in India or from a person resident outside India.
- How do I transfer OCI to new passport?
Applicants are required to fill the miscellaneous application form online for transfer of OCI ‘U’ Visa from old passport to new passport and have to submit the printed application along with a copy of the old and new passport and copy of OCI booklet.
Hope this article is informative and will help you in some way. Stay tuned for more articles on a variety of subjects related to the life in the UK.