Introduction to Overseas Citizen of India Card
An Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) Card is issued by the government of India to different classes of people under the Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The card is extremely beneficial as it guarantees the holder a number of rights and privileges in India which they would otherwise not be entitled to. This article will deal with the benefits of obtaining and OCI card and the classes of person who are eligible to register as an OCI cardholder.[i]
Classes of Person Eligible for registration as OCI cardholder
The foreign nationals who fall into any of the categories mentioned below are eligible for registration as OCI cardholders. This is not applicable to persons whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents had been a citizen of Bangladesh, Pakistan or any other country notified by the Government of India in the official gazette.
- Citizen of India at the time when the Constitution commenced (26.01.1950) or after that.
- Who was eligible to be a citizen of India on 26.01.1950
- Who belonged to a territory that became a part of India after 15.08.1947
- Who is a child or grandchild of such a citizen or a minor child of the persons mentioned above.
- Who is a minor child and at least one of the parents are Indian citizens.
- Spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or an OCI cardholder registered under Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and whose marriage is registered and has subsisted continuously for a period of two years or more preceding the period of application.
To know how to register as an OCI cardholder as a foreign national after marriage with an Indian Citizen or an OCI Cardholder, click here. (Hyperlink to the article)
Benefits of being an OCI Cardholder
- Lifelong visa to visit India with no restriction on the number of entries for any purpose
- Exemption from registration with Foreign Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreign Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in India.
- Equal treatment with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial and educational fields and in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children.
- Parity with Indian citizens in the matters of air fare charges in domestic sectors in India and entry fees to visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India.
- They are given parity with NRIs with respect to practicing of professions such as doctors, advocates, architects and chartered accountants.
- They are allowed to appear for medical entrance test in India and other related tests as contained in the relevant acts.
- Eligibility for appointment as teaching faculty at IITs, NITs, IIMs, IISERs, IISC, Central Universities and new AIIMS that have been set up.[ii]
Dual citizenship is not applicable in India. Being an OCI cardholder entitles you to nearly all the benefits of dual citizenship. It also provides the protection of the law and benefits equivalent to either the resident Indian citizens or Non-Resident Indians in most cases. Moreover, you also get exemptions from many of the procedures that foreign nationals have to go through. Hence, if you have a connect with India, aim to visit India often and conduct business transactions here, it is advised to obtain an OCI card to make it a better and more fulfilling experience.