Scope and implications of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)

Get a basic understanding of the meaning and limitations of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), a term that is often heard in Goa
INDIA CALLING: The OCI Scheme was introduced through a 2005 amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.
INDIA CALLING: The OCI Scheme was introduced through a 2005 amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.Photo: Gomantak Times

Stephen’s friend had applied for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), and he set out to find out about its scope and implications

LAW SPEAK

The OCI Scheme was introduced through a 2005 amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955, that included Sections 7A to 7D in the Act.

INDIA CALLING: The OCI Scheme was introduced through a 2005 amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.
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WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Any Person of Indian Origin (PIO) who was/eligible to become a citizen of India on January 26, 1950; who belonged to a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947; who was a child/grandchild/great grandchild of such a citizen, or who is a minor child and both of whose parents or one of whose parents are citizens of India, is eligible for registration as OCI card holder.

OCI is not recognised as citizenship of India. It does not grant the right to vote in elections, hold public office, contest elections or hold constitutional posts.

A spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India/OCI cardholder, whose marriage has been registered and subsisted continuously for at least two years immediately before the application date, is also eligible for OCI registration (subject to prior security clearance).

If a person or their parent/grandparent/great grandparent is/was a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or other country notified by the Central Government, s/he will not be eligible for registration as an OCI cardholder.

INDIA CALLING: The OCI Scheme was introduced through a 2005 amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.
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STATUS OF AN OCI HOLDER

OCI is not recognised as citizenship of India. It does not grant the right to vote in elections, hold public office, contest elections or hold constitutional posts.

An OCI cardholder is not entitled to undertake any missionary work, mountaineering and journalism work without the prior permission of the Government of India.

OCI card holders can make a declaration renouncing their OCI. Following renunciation, every minor child of such person registered as OCI, will also cease to be an OCI.

FACILITIES AVAILABLE TO OCI HOLDERS

  • Multiple entry, multipurpose, life-long visa for visit to India and exemption from registration with the Foreign Regional Registration Officer for any length of stay in India.

  • General parity with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in facilities in economic, financial and educational fields except acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

INDIA CALLING: The OCI Scheme was introduced through a 2005 amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.
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HOW TO APPLY FOR OCI

OCI applications can be made online with identification documents (to prove applicants meet the eligibility criteria), a photograph and application fee.

RENUNCIATION OF OCI STATUS

OCI card holders can make a declaration renouncing their OCI. Following renunciation, every minor child of such person registered as OCI, will also cease to be an OCI.

CANCELLATION OF OCI

The Central Government can cancel OCI registration (after giving reasonable opportunity of being heard) if it is satisfied that:

  • Registration was obtained by fraud, misrepresentation or concealment of any material fact

  • OCI showed disaffection towards the Indian Constitution

  • OCI has during any war in which India was engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with an enemy or engaged in/associated with any business or commercial activity to assist an enemy in that war

  • OCI was, within five years of OCI registration, sentenced to not less than two years imprisonment

INDIA CALLING: The OCI Scheme was introduced through a 2005 amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.
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  • It is necessary in the interest of India’s sovereignty and integrity of India, security, friendly relations with any foreign country or in the interests of the general public

  • The marriage of an OCI (who was OCI by virtue of marriage to an OCI cardholder) is dissolved or s/he has married any other person during the subsistence of the marriage

    Stephen now understood the implications of OCI...

This article seeks to present, in simple words, legal issues and doubts that we face in our day-to-day lives. It should not be taken as a substitute for a lawyer.

(The writer is a lawyer and company secretary with a focus on education, legal issues and governance, and enjoys working with individuals and organisations towards enhancing their effectiveness).

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