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

  • “was a citizen of India on or after 26th January 1950” or
  • “was eligible to become a citizen of India on that date” or
  • “who is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.”

Difference PIOs and OCI ?

The Citizenship Act, 1955 used to recognize certain categories of PIOs ( Persons of Indian Origin ) to be eligible for OCI Cards until 2015, when the Government merged these two categories. Now there is no difference between PIO and OCI as both are considered as one card that is OCI (Overseas Citizens of India).

Advantages of holding OCI Card

A Person holding an OCI card enjoys various rights which were not available previously to the PIOs. 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) no matter how long their stay. Basically an OCI Cardholder enjoy rights closely equivalent to an Indian citizen living abroad i.e. NRI Non-resident Indians.

Following are the Rights Enjoyed by an OCI Cardholder.

  • If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India.
  • An OCI Cardholder can buy Non-farm property and can exercise ownership rights
  • OCI Cardholders can apply for Driving License as well as a PAN card.
  • Can Get a Multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India and can enter multiple times without registering with FRRO.
  • Recently Karnataka high court ruled that the students holding Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards must be treated as Indian citizens for the purpose of admission to professional courses and they are entitled to admission under the state quota.

Who is Not Eligible for OCI card ?

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.

OCI Card Limitations

  • OCI cardholders do not get voting rights like normal Citizens of India Enjoy under the Representation of Peoples Act.
  • OCI cardholder cannot buy a Farm land in India , although he can buy any Non-farm Land with ownership rights
  • OCI cardholders cannot get a Government Job or get into any recruitment process. They cannot even run a public Office.
  • OCI Cardholders cannot travel to restricted areas without government permission.