What is an OCI card and how to apply for it?

A screenshot of the website for Online OCI services.  

The Central Government is granting Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) to people who have migrated from the country as well as to those whose ancestors belonged to India, with exemptions to Pakistan and Bangladesh. Here is what you need to know:

Difference between NRI, OCI and PIO

Prior to 2011, the External Affairs Ministry was running a separate scheme for Person of Indian Origin (PIO). They are Indian-origin people up to four generations removed, except those living in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

In 2015 it was merged, and all PIOs were converted to OCI status. A person with OCI status is not an Indian citizen. The person does not have voting rights in India, nor can contest elections or hold any constitutional office. He or she cannot buy agricultural land but can inherit ancestral property. OCI facilitates visa-free travel to India, rights of residency and participation in business and educational activities in the country. The spouse of an Indian-origin person is also eligible for OCI.

A non-resident Indian (NRI) holds an Indian passport while living in another country. A person has to have lived for at least six months in a foreign country to be considered as an NRI. The classification of NRI is used only for calculating income tax.

How to apply for OCI card?

The Bureau of Immigration under the Union Home Ministry issues OCI status. It can be applied online by logging on to

Six documents have to be produced with the application

1. Proof of present citizenship

2. Evidence of self or parents or grandparents or great grandparents being a citizen of India

3. Evidence of relationship as parent/grandparent/ great grandparent, if their Indian origin is claimed as basis for registration as OCI cardholder.

4. Evidence as spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an OCI cardholder.

5. Passport size photograph of the person

6. Thumb impression of the person

An application fee of $275 or Rs. 15,000 is charged when applied through Indian Missions abroad or when submitted in India.

The duly filled application form and fee challan can be submitted at Foreigners Regional Registration Offices or at Indian Missions abroad.

An OCI card is usually issued within 30 days of receiving an acknowledgement from the Bureau.

Denial and cancellation

The Ministry of Home Affairs scrunitises every application. The ministry holds the right to reject any application. An application may be rejected for lack of adequate security clearance, for instance. An OCI card can even be cancelled or blacklisted if it was found to have been got by means of fraud or by concealing any information. If a person is proved to have disrespected the Indian Constitution, the OCI is immediately cancelled.


Since India does not allow dual citizenship, a person of Indian Origin is not an Indian citizen. However, a person who is registered as an OCI cardholder can apply for grant of Indian citizenship five years after being granted the OCI status. In addition to this, the person should have been a resident in India for twelve months before making an application for registration.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 5:03:09 AM |

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