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An Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) Card guarantees the holder a number of rights and privileges in India which they would otherwise not be entitled to. There is no need to give up your existing citizenship to obtain an OCI card. To know more about the OCI card and the complete list of eligible persons, click here (add hyperlink to the previous article).
The spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or an OCI cardholder registered under Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 is eligible to apply for an OCI card. This article deals with the procedure for application for a foreign spouse and the effect of a divorce on the validity of the OCI card. It will also cover the cases when the spouse dies.
Conditions to be fulfilled before applying for an OCI card for spouse
- The marriage should be with an Indian citizen or an OCI cardholder registered under Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- The marriage should have subsisted continuously for a period of two years or more preceding the period of application.
- Proof of present citizenship in the form of a valid passport or copy of certificate of registration of citizenship or naturalization.
- Evidence of address of the place of application – Copy of Electricity or Telephone Bill or undertaking from the relative you are residing with or lease license if you are a tenant.
- Marriage certificate issued by Marriage Registrar is required if the marriage is registered in India. In case of marriage in a foreign country, it should be certified by the Indian Mission or Post in that country. If the certificate is not in English, it must be translated into English by an authorized translator.
- An undertaking that in case of a divorce, the foreign spouse will surrender their OCI card.
- Spouse of Indian Citizen – Copy of proof of Indian Passport or Domicile Certificate of the Indian spouse.
Spouse of OCI Cardholder – Copy of present valid passport of spouse, copy of OCI Card and copies of documents on which the OCI card was issued to the spouse.
Grant of OCI Card
Once all the documents along with the Application Fee have been submitted, a personal interview of the applicants is held either physically or through video conferencing. This only happens when applying as a spouse of a foreign citizen. The biometrics is also captures for anyone between the ages of 12 to 70 years. Once all the steps are completed, the booklet can be collected by the applicant or through a duly authorized person from the concerned Indian Mission/ FRRO.
Effect of Divorce on OCI Card
In a recent case, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed the Delhi High Court that foreigners registered as OCI cardholders because of their marriage to Indian nationals cannot continue to enjoy that status after their divorce. Hence, if a divorce takes place, it is the duty of the OCI card holder, who had obtained it as a spouse of an Indian citizen or an OCI card holder, is to surrender their OCI card at the nearest Indian Mission/Post or FRRO.
Effect of death of the spouse of an OCI cardholder
An application for registration as an OCI cardholder may be accepted by the Indian Missions/Posts/FRROs on case to case basis. The foreigner must not have remarried another foreigner. If any time after the registration as OCI, the holder marries another foreign/Indian the registration gets cancelled. In case of remarriage to another citizen of India, a fresh application is to be made. The conditions that a spouse of the deceased is required to fulfil include:
- The children of the foreign spouse who are born from the marriage with the deceased Indian spouse are Indian Citizens/ OCI cardholders.
- There has been property acquisition by the foreign spouse individually or jointly with the Indian spouse.
- Any other such ground prevails.
Common Reasons for rejection of OCI Card
- The order of the documents is not correct.
- The proof that Indian citizenship has been renounced is not adequate.
- The proof of address is not acceptable or no such proof is submitted.
- The applicant is not eligible to obtain an OCI card.
- There is a lack of adequate security clearance.
Remedy when OCI card is rejected
In case, the card is rejected due to incomplete or incorrect information, a fresh application has to be made and the documents need to be submitted correctly or the application will be rejected again. If a person is not satisfied by the reasons for rejection, an appeal can be filed under Section 15A of the Citizenship Act. Such an application has to be made within a period of 30 days from the date of rejection of an application. If the card is rejected again, a petition can be filed before the High Court regarding the same.
Remedy when OCI card is revoked
If the card is revoked by the agencies, an application can be filed under Section 15 of the Citizenship Act before the Ministry of Home Affairs. If the application has been rejected, a petition can be filed before the High Court.
In the case of Dr Christo Thomas Philip v. Union Of India (2019), the OCI card of the petitioner was cancelled on the ground that he was involved in missionary activities in India. The petitioner contended that the allegations are arbitrary and are not based on any evidence and the order cancelling his OCI card should be set aside. The court held that Overseas Citizens of India are entitled to protection under Article 14 and Article 19 of the Constitution of India. It nullified the cancellation of his OCI card and directed the authorities to restore the same. The authorities were also directed to ensure that the petitioner faces no hindrance when entering India.
In order to facilitate International Marriages and make it easier for the couple to move freely and live in the country of their choice, the OCI card scheme included the foreign spouse of Indian citizens or OCI cardholders. This makes travel to India, conducting business in India or settling in India a lot more easier for the couple. It also encourages Indians living abroad with their families to stay in touch with India and retain their identity as Indians while also accommodating their spouse.