OCI Card (Overseas Citizenship of India)
Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is a life-long
visa. It is a multiple entry visa that allows the holder to travel to India as
many times as they wish.
It also entitles the holder to stay in India for as
long as they wish to without the need for exiting India in 180 days. As the
name suggests, it is ‘overseas citizenship’ which grants the holder more or
less all rights like a normal citizen of India.
The only exception is that the
OCI holders cannot vote in India or purchase agricultural Land. However, being a
multiple purpose visa, OCI holders are allowed to buy or sell any investments
including commercial and residential properties. They can also undertake any
business activities like a normal Indian national.
Furthermore, the OCI card
can be used as a valid proof to apply for PAN card, open bank accounts, and
applying for a driving license in India.
Overseas Citizenship of India can only be applied if you can prove Indian Origin. If the applicant has held Indian nationality at any point than OCI can be applied on the basis of your past Indian nationality. In other cases, you can also apply for the OCI on the basis of your parent’s Indian origin provided at least one of the parents was born in India. In some cases, you can even choose to apply on the basis of your grandparent’s Indian nationality. The important thing is that, based on your circumstances, you must have sufficient documents to prove your Indian origin. Otherwise, you can only apply for an Indian visa. The list of documents required is discussed later in this article.
1. Initial Online Application and Documents Upload
Application for OCI is a part online process. This means that the applicant needs to complete the visa application form online. You would also be required to upload a copy of your photograph, your signature, and all the copies of the supporting documents to the embassy website. The initial online application and document upload process are mandatory for all applicants. After the online application is complete, the applicant needs to take copies of the application form for physical submission to the nearest VFS centers.
2. Submission of the Application in person
Applicants need to make an appointment on the VFS website before visiting them for the submission of the OCI application. All applicants are required to visit in person as applications cannot be submitted on anyone’s behalf. You will be required to submit the original documents for the application. These will be returned back via courier within 5-7 days. VFS will process the application, charge you the fees, and issue you an acknowledgment receipt. Please keep the receipt safely as it will be required later once the OCI is approved. Usually the Indian embassy will process your application and respond back in 4-5 weeks’ time, however, delays may occur.
3. After submission of the OCI
You are required to check the status of the application on the embassy website. You will require your application number and passport number for this process. These can be found on the receipt provided by VFS at the time of submission. Once the status is updated as ‘OCI received’, your initial OCI is granted and you can submit your passport for stamping of the OCI visa. As mentioned earlier, it usually takes 4-5 weeks for the status to be updated.
4. Collection of approved OCI card
Once the OCI status is updated on the embassy website as ‘OCI received’, please take a copy/print of this webpage and submit to VFS in person along with the rest of the documents (see below). You will not require an appointment for this submission. The documents you will require to submit are -
· Printout of on-line status report
· Receipt of the application issued during initial submission
· British/Foreign Passport in original
· If you have applied for the renewal OCI Card, then please submit your old passport and OCI Card (Booklet)
Documents required for OCI application
All applicants will need to submit original documents along with a copy of the originals at the time of submission. Normally the Indian embassy will take up to a week to process and return back the originals to you via a courier. The documents required for application for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI card) are –
1) Application Form – This form is available on the embassy website. After the application is completed online, you will have the option to download and print the completed application form along with the declaration form.
2) Photographs – Every applicant will need to submit 2 photographs as art of the OCI application. The photos must be clicked against a white background and must be a square 2-inch X 2-inch photograph. A standard UK passport size photograph will not be acceptable.
3) Current UK / foreign Passport – Along with the original, at the time of submission, you will need a copy of your existing passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months at the time of application. If your passport is valid for more than 6 months but under a year, then you can apply for OCI, however, we recommend you to renew your passport and then make an OCI application using your new passport. This is to avoid you having to renew your OCI again on the expiry of your passport.
4) Naturalisation / Registration Certificate –Applicants who have obtained the UK/foreign nationality by Naturalization are required to submit the Original Naturalization Certificate along with the copy. If you have gained nationality through any other method i.e. registration, etc. then a copy and original of the document confirming the same are required.
5) Proof of Employment - All OCI applicants, except those under 18 years of age, are required to submit a letter from their employer. The letter must mention the applicants' designation/ job title and a brief job description. This letter must be on company headed paper and signed by the appropriate manager. In case the applicant is ‘unemployed' then proof of last employment is required. This can be payslips or P45. If the applicant is a businessman/self-employed then they should provide a Company registration certificate or proof of self-employment along with a letter explaining the nature of their work.
6) Proof of Marriage (For married applicants only) – All applicants who are married must submit an original marriage certificate along with a copy.
7) Additional requirements for Minor Applicants (Under 18)-Along with all the above-mentioned documents, all applications for Overseas Citizen of India for minors (those under 18 years of age) require to additionally produce a) marriage certificate of parents. Minors born out of live-in relationships (unless at least one parent is an Indian citizen), Step & adopted children are not eligible for OCI b) Full version of the birth certificate with parents’ names mentioned in it. Applicants with birth certificates which contain only one parent’s details, (other parent’s details are not mentioned or the parent is unknown), are not eligible to apply for an OCI c) Consent letter signed by both parents requesting OCI for the child d) Copy of passport of both parents and UK visa (if applicable). Note: For minors to be eligible to apply for OCI, it least one parent needs to be either Indian national or hold an OCI card. Joint applications for OCI for parents are children are accepted as an exception.
8) Proof of Indian Origin - All applicants are required to prove Indian origin to successfully apply for the Overseas Citizenship of India. Based on your individual circumstances, there are various documents one can produce to prove Indian origin. All the original documents are required along with a copy at the time of submission. Depending on your circumstances, below is a list of documents required to prove Indian origin –
Proof of Indian Origin – Which documents to submit?
There are various ways applicants can prove their Indian Origin. Based on your individual history and circumstances, different sets of documents are required to prove this. Detailed below are some most common ways you can claim Indian Origin and required documents to support your application.
· For those previously holding Indian Nationality and Indian Passport
Indian Passport Surrender Certificate - Under Indian law, those of Indian Origin who have acquired foreign Nationality is required to surrender their Indian passports to the nearest Indian Mission immediately after acquisition of foreign citizenship in order to obtain the Indian Passport Surrender Certificate. The Indian Passport Surrender normally takes 10-15 days to process. The Indian embassy issues a certificate confirming the renunciation of your Indian nationality. This is a mandatory requirement for applicants previously holding Indian Nationality. If you are unable to produce this certificate for any reason then there are few other ways to prove Indian origin. More on this is covered further below in the ‘Other Information’ section.
· For those born in India but never held an Indian Passport
Applicants who were born in India and never held an Indian passport, and traveled out of India on parents' Indian Passports, are required to submit an original notarised affidavit from UK stating the facts about how they traveled to the UK. Applicants are also expected to produce supporting documents like an original Domicile Certificate from India OR Original Birth Certificate issued in India OR Original School Leaving Certificate. Note: if these certificates are issued recently for the purpose of the OCI application then they must be authenticated. The birth certificate must be certified by the District Magistrate/District Collector of the area, with name, stamp, seal, and contact telephone numbers with area code for verification. In case of school leaving certificate, it must be authenticated by Director of Education/District Magistrate/District Collector of the area with name, stamp, seal, and contact telephone numbers with area code for verification
· For those claiming Indian origin on the basis of their parent’s Indian nationality/origin
Applicants claiming Indian origin on the basis of their parent’s Indian nationality/origin would require to produce a) an original birth certificate with names of both the parents in it. For birth certificates that are not in English or Hindi, they must be translated by a reputed and registered translation authority. b) Proof of parents Indian Origin. This could be their Indian passport surrender certificate OR domicile certificate OR parents birth certificate issued in India.
· For those claiming Indian origin on the basis of their grandparent’s Indian nationality/origin
Applicants claiming Indian origin on the basis of their grandparent’s Indian nationality/origin would require to produce a) an original birth certificate with names of both the parents in it. For birth certificates that are not in English or Hindi, they must be translated by a reputed and registered translation authority. b) Original birth certificate of parents (with applicant grandparents' names in it). c) Proof of grandparent’s Indian origin. This could be their Indian passport surrender certificate OR domicile certificate OR parents birth certificate issued in India.
· For those claiming Indian the origin on the basis of their spouse’s Indian nationality/origin
Applicants can only apply for OCI on the basis of their spouse’s Indian nationality/origin provided the marriage is registered and subsisted for at least 2 years at the time of the application. The applicant would require to produce a) Original marriage registration certificate b) Birth certificates of both the applicant and their spouse c) Consent letter written by the spouse(of Indian Origin) providing consent for the applicant to be able to obtain an OCI based on his/her Indian Origin. The letter needs to be addressed to the High Commission of India, London/Birmingham. d) Spouse’s proof of Indian origin. This could be their Indian passport surrender certificate OR OCI Card OR domicile certificate OR spouse’s parents' birth certificate issued in India.
Nativity certificate, domicile certificate, etc. – Confused about the documents?
Nativity Certificate: If the applicant is unable to produce any documentary proof of Indian origin of parents or grandparents then a nativity certificate is accepted. A nativity certificate confirms the Indian origin of the person mentioned. To apply for this certificate, you would be required to complete the application form (download here) and get it certified in India. The Nativity certificate should be certified by the District Magistrate or District Collector of the area where the applicant’s parents or grandparents were born or resided. The certification must bear the name, stamp, seal, and contact telephone numbers of the issuing person for verification. It is recommended that the applicant produces some documents like Land Records, Educational certificates, birth certificates,s, etc. to support the nativity application. This certificate is required in the original in the UK for the purpose of the OCI application. Please note that if the applicant was born in India and is submitting a nativity certificate for themselves, then they also need to submit a notarized affidavit from UK stating the facts about their Indian passport and how they traveled to the UK.
Domicile Certificate: A domicile certificate is issued to confirm the residence status of the applicant at any given period of time. These are accepted as proof of Indian origin in most cases for the application of an OCI card. The domicile certificate issued by District Magistrate, Collectors, or Sub Divisional Magistrates is accepted for the OCI application.
(Post-dated birth) Birth Certificate or School Leaving Certificate: The applicant can produce a birth certificate or a school leaving certificate toward proof of Indian origin for themselves or their parents or grandparents. However, in some cases, the original may not be available. In such a case, you can approach the relevant Indian Municipality or Panchayat for a new birth certificate or the school for a leaving certificate. The newly issued (post-dated) certificate needs to be verified, as these certificates would be recently issued and not the ones originally issued at the time of birth or leaving the school. The birth certificates need to be certified by the District Magistrate/District Collector of the area, with name, stamp, seal, and contact telephone numbers with area code. The school leaving certificate needs to be verified by the Director of Education/District Magistrate/District Collector of the area with name, stamp, seal, and contact telephone number.
Lost your Indian Passport or Surrender Certificate?
If the applicant has lost the Indian passport surrender certificate, then those applicants who have obtained foreign nationality after May 2010 are required to reapply for another certificate. In these cases, the Indian embassy issues a ‘Renunciation of Indian Citizenship Certificate’.
If the applicant has acquired foreign nationality before May 2010, and are unable to produce the Indian Passport Surrender certificate for any reason (lost/misplaced/submitted to UK Home Office long time back) are required to submit an original notarized affidavit from the UK stating the facts about their Indian passports along with either an original Domicile Certificate from India OR Original Birth Certificate issued in India OR Original School Leaving Certificate.
1. Who can apply for the Overseas Citizenship of India?
Anyone can apply for Overseas Citizenship of India who can prove their Indian Origin or that of their parents or grandparents. However, if the applicant, their parents or grandparents were citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh then they are currently not eligible for OCI. Furthermore, British Overseas Citizens, Asylees, or Stateless applicants are not eligible for OCI.
Foreign Defense/Military/Civil Servants/Police/ex-Police/ex-Defence personnel are not eligible to apply for OCI. This includes the personnel of the Home Office as well as of the MoD. In addition, foreign diplomats are also not eligible for Overseas Citizenship of India.
2. What are the restrictions applicable to OCI cardholder?
The OCI Cardholder is not entitled to vote, to participate in any official elections as a candidate in India, to hold any Indian constitutional posts or hold employment in the Government organizations.
An OCI cardholder is not entitled to undertake any Journalistic, Filming of Documentary, Missionary, Mountaineering and Research work in India. They need prior approval from the concerned Department/Ministry of the Government of India for these. Usually, a prior visa is required for such specific purposes from the Indian Embassy in the country of residence.
3.Can foreign nationals get OCI if they are married to persons who are eligible for OCI?
The spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder can apply for OCI card provided the marriage is registered and lasted at least 2 years it the time of the application of the OCI.
4.Can I travel to India with the OCI card?
Yes, you can travel to India with the OCI card, however, you are also required to carry your current passport along with the OCI card.
5.Can a person renounce OCI?
The OCI cardholder has to declare their intention of renunciation in Form XXII to the Indian Embassy where OCI registration was granted. After receipt of the declaration, the Indian Embassy issues an acknowledgment in Form XXII A.
6.Are 'Empire of India' Passports issued by the British authorities in India prior to Indian Independence accepted as proof of Indian Origin?
The ‘Empire of India’ passports are accepted provided they state the National Status of the holder as a person of British Protectorate, originally a citizen of a place in India. If the passport mentions the National Status of the holder as ‘British subject by birth’ than it is not accepted.
7.What is the processing time of the OCI application?
All applicants are advised to book their travel plan only after obtaining the OCI. New OCI application takes at least 6-8 weeks and OCI Miscellaneous services take 7-10 working days to process.
8.I have a birth certificate that is not in English. Is it accepted?
Any documents that are not in English or Hindi will not be accepted for the purpose of OCI. They must be translated in English or Hindi by a reputed and registered translation authority.
9.Do children need to sign the OCI form?
Children below 5 years of age should place the thumb impression (of the left hand in case of girl and of the right hand in case of a boy) and children above 5 years of age should write their name or sign. Signature/thumb impression of the child applicant is also required on the declaration page (Part B) of the application form.