Many nations permit their citizens to have more than one citizenship enhancing their socioeconomic integration. If you look at the Bible, St. Paul has dual citizenship, one from Tarsus and another from Rome (Acts 22:24-29). Owning second citizenship or multiple citizenship is a step towards more freedom that can give you more control and independence. But, the Indian Constitution does not allow dual or more citizenship to any person of any country.
Demands For Dual Citizenship By Indian Diaspora
The OCI was introduced in response to demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries. It was introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August 2005 and further amendment has been made in 2015 as "Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015".
Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Is Almost Equal To Dual Citizenship In India
To facilitate more or less to dual citizenship, the Government of India decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) on the basis of recommendation and request of the High Level committee on Indian Diaspora. Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) of certain category as has been specified in the "Eligibility Criteria To Register As Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)" who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible for grant of OCI as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or the other under their local laws.
Eligibility Criteria To Register As Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)
A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India on 26-01-1950 or was a citizen of India on or at anytime after 26-01-1950 or belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15-08-1947 and foreigner's children and grand children, provided his / her country of citizenship allows dual citizenship in some form or other under the local laws, is eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). Minor children of such person are also eligible for OCI. However, if the applicant had ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, he / she will not be eligible for OCI.
Overseas Citizen of India Card (OCI Card)
A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India as described above (Eligibility Criteria To Register As Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)) is entitled to get an OCI Card after successful registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI).
Features And Benefits of OCI Card Holders
OCI Card Holder is a person registered as under Section 7 (A) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, Government of India and includes citizen of any country (other than Pakistan or Bangladesh) who was eligible to become a citizen of India at the time of commencement of the Constitution of India, or was a citizen of India on or any time after the commencement of the Constitution or belonged to a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947
OCI Card holders are entitled to get the following featured status in the country:
- A multipurpose, multiple entry, lifelong visa allowing them to visit India at any time, for any length of time and for any purpose. However OCI Card holders will require a special permission to undertake research work in India for which they may submit the application to the Indian Mission / Post / FRRO concerned.
- Exempted from police reporting for any length of stay in the country.
- Granted all rights in the economic, financial and education fields in parity with NRI except, the right to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
- OCI Card can be used as identity proof for application of PAN Card and driving license as well as for opening a bank account if the OCI card holder is residing in India.
- Exemption from registration with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in India.
- Treated at par with resident Indian nationals in the matter of tariffs in air fares in domestic sectors in India.
- Charged the same entry fee as domestic Indian visitors to visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India.
Benefits An OCI Card Holder NOT Entitled
The OCI Card holder is NOT entitled to get the following status / benefits:
- Voting Rights
- Member of a Legislative Assembly (MLA)
- Member of Legislative Council (MLC)
- Member of Parliament (MP)
- Member of Rajyasabha
- Indian constitutional posts such as that of the President, Vice President, Judge of the Supreme Court or High Court etc.
- Employment in the Government Organizations
Registration Procedures To Obtain OCI Card
- Step-1: The applicant has to submit the Part ‘A’ of the application form online at https://ociservices.gov.in/
- Step-2: Part ‘B’ is to be submitted in-person with 4 latest photographs (Size 35mm x 35mm, light colour background but not white) at the High Commission along with the relevant documents.
Documents Required For Registering OCI Card
The documents are proof of eligibility like previous Indian passport and Birth Certificate, valid foreign and presently held passport and local residence proof. If the applicant is applying on the basis of parent’s Indian citizenship then proof of relationship should be submitted.
In case the applicant does not have the old Indian Passport, he / she may provide other documents issued from India like birth certificate, nativity certificate etc., which will be sent to India for confirmation before accepting the application form.
All the above documents are to be produced in original for verification and photocopies of the same are to be attached in duplicate with the application.
Fee For Applying New OCI Card
A fee US$ 275.00 is to be paid in cash at the High Commission. In case of application submitted in India - Rs. 15,000/- .
Procedure To Get Indian Citizenship For OCI Card Holder
As per section 5(1)(g) of the Citizenship Act,1955, a person registered as an OCI cardholder for 5 years and who is ordinarily resident in India for twelve months before making an application for registration is eligible for grant of Indian citizenship. Central Government, if it is satisfied that special circumstances exist, may after recording the circumstances in writing, relax the period of twelve months, up to a maximum of thirty days which may be in different breaks.
Investment Opportunities in India For An OCI Cardholder
Under Schedule 4 of the Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India (TISPRO) Regulations, an OCI can invest, on non-repatriation basis. The main extracts are:
- The Capital Instruments of an Indian company, without any limit, either on the stock exchange or outside it (examples are equity shares, compulsorily convertible debentures, compulsorily convertible preference shares and share warrants).
- Units issued by an investment vehicle without any limit, either on the stock exchange or outside it (examples are Alternative Investment Funds (AIF), Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT), Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvIT), etc.).
- The capital of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), without any limit.
- Convertible notes issued by a start-up company.
In addition to the above, an OCI is also allowed to invest, by way of contribution to the capital of a firm or a proprietary concern in India.
Further, OCI is now also allowed to make above-said investments, through the companies, trusts or partnership firms that are incorporated outside India and are owned and controlled by NRI or OCI.