Overseas Citizenship of India

Background

  • September -2000-M. Singhvi recommended the amendment of the Citizenship Act (1955) to provide for grant of dual citizenship to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs).
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, made provision for acquisition of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) by the PIOs
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005, expanded the scope of grant of OCI for PIOs of all countries except Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015 introduced a new scheme called “Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder” by merging the
    PIO card scheme and the OCI card scheme.

The Ministry of Home Affairs defines an OCI as a person who:

  • Was a citizen of India on or after 26thJanuary 1950; or
  • Was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January 1950; or
  • Is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
  • According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • The category was introduced by the government in 2005. The Government of India via Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015 merged the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) category with OCI category in 2015.

Benefits to OCI Cardholders

  • OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times, get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, and are exempt from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
  • If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she is eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • At all Indian international airports, OCI cardholders are provided with special immigration counters.
  • OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India, buy the non-farm property and exercise ownership rights and can also apply for a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card.

Limitations

  • OCI cardholders do not get voting rights, cannot hold a government joband purchase agricultural or farmland.
  • He shall not be eligible for election as President /Vice-President/Judge of SC or HC/ member of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha / member of State Legislative Assembly or the State Legislative Council.
  • They cannot travel to restricted areas without government permission.
  • He shall not be entitled for registration as a voter.
  • He shall not be entitled to the right to equality of opportunity in
    matters of public employment.