OCI Explained – What are the rights and privileges granted?

The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) program is granted to foreign nationals of Indian origin to live and work in India.This program is not for individuals who are from Pakistan or Bangladesh.

The following individuals qualify for registration as an OCI[1]

  • A person who at any time held an Indian passport; or
  • A person whose either parent or grandparents or great grandparents was born in and was a permanent resident of India, provided neither was at any time a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or any other country that may be specified by the Government from time to time; or
  • A person of foreign origin who is a spouse of a citizen of India/OCI cardholder and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a minimum period of two years.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently issued a notification to all the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs) or Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) stating that an OCI application can only be submitted in India once a foreign national has resided in India for a continuous period of six (6) months prior to submitting the application. This means an uninterrupted stay in India for an entire period of six (6) months. It is important to note that this is applicable only to OCI applications submitted in India.

Benefits of an OCI cardholder

  • Multiple entry, multi-purpose and a lifelong visa to visit and live in India. If the OCI card holder wishes to undertake research work in India, special permission to undertake such work must be granted by the Indian Mission/FRRO concerned. OCI cardholders are not entitled to undertake Missionary, Mountaineering and Journalism activities without prior permission of the Indian government. If the individual wishes to undertake such activities, prior permission from the Indian Mission/FRRO concerned is required;
  • Exempt from in-country FRRO/FRO registration requirements for any length of stay in India;
  • Receives equal rights with non-resident Indians (NRIs) in financial, economic and educational fields except in acquiring agricultural land or plantation properties;
  • Parity with NRIs with regard to pursuing professions such as doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, advocates, architects and chartered accountants;
  • Parity with NRIs in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children.

The OCI program is not a replacement for dual citizenship but affords some rights to eligible individuals with an Indian heritage who are now citizens of different countries and also other persons of non-Indian origin/heritage provided they fulfill certain conditions.

Rajesh Khandekar


https://boi.gov.in/content/overseas-citizen-india-oci-cardholder (accessed on December 20, 2019)

Changes in the Overseas Citizenship of India Program

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently issued a notification to all the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs) or Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) stating that an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) application can only be submitted in India once a foreign national has resided in India for a continuous period of six (6) months prior to submitting the application. This means an uninterrupted stay in India for an entire period of six (6) months. It is important to note that this is applicable only to OCI applications submitted in India.

Key words: OCI, FRRO/FRO, Ministry of Home Affairs

Ashwina Pinto, Associate