Context: The right of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders to access multiple entry life-long visa facility for visiting India for any purpose would continue to be kept in suspension.
More on the news:
- The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an order as the air travel of passengers from/to India is prohibited by the Government of India, amid COVID-19 breakdown.
- Any foreign national holding an OCI card who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons during this period would have to contact the nearest Indian Mission.
- Further, in case of persons holding OCI cards who are already in India, the OCI card shall remain valid for their stay in India for any length of time.
About OCI scheme:
- In 2005, the OCI Scheme was introduced by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955.
- A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India on 26.01.1950 or was a citizen of India on or at any time after 26.01.1950 or belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947 is eligible for registration as OCI.
- Minor children of such a person are also eligible for OCI.
- Spouses of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application are also eligible.
- However, if the applicant had ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, he/she will not be eligible for OCI.
- Rights granted to OCI cardholders: This category of citizens have been granted statutory rights under the Citizenship Act, 1955. Therefore, right granted depends on the policy of the Central government.
- OCI cardholders do not get voting rights and cannot hold a government job.
- A registered OCI is granted multiple entry, multipurpose, life-long visa for visiting India.
- However OCI Cardholders 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.
- A registered OCI is exempted from registration with Foreign Regional Registration Officer or Foreign Registration Officer for any length of stay in India.
Recently, the government held that Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders do not enjoy fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
- OCI vs NRI: OCI is entitled to general parity with Non-Resident Indians in respect of all facilities available to them in economic, financial and educational fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
Comparing NRI, PIO and OCI Cardholders:
Elements of Comparison
Non Resident Indian(NRI)
Person of Indian Origin(PIO)
An Indian citizen who
is ordinarily residing
outside India and
holds an Indian
A person who or
whose any of
Ancestors was an
and who is presently
Country’s citizenship /nationality i.e. he/she is holding
A person registered as Overseas Citizen of
under the Citizenship
All benefits as available to Indian
Citizens subject to
Notifications issued by
the Government from time to time
No specific benefits
- Treated at par with Non-
Resident Indians in
the matter of intercountry
- Treated at par with resident Indian nationals in the matter of tariffs in air fares in domestic sectors in India.
- Shall be charged the
same entry fee as
visitors to visit
national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India.
Visa required for visiting India
Can visit India without
visa for life long.
Required to register with the local police
Yes if the
stay is for
Activities allowed in India
type of visa
All activities except
research work for which special permission is
required from the Indian Mission/Post/ FRRO concerned.
How can one acquire Indian citizenship?
He/she is an Indian
As per the Citizenship
Act, 1955, he/she has
to be ordinarily
resident in India for a
period of 7 years
Before making an
As per 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.