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)

OCI Cardholders


An Indian citizen who

is ordinarily residing

outside India and

holds an Indian


A person who or

whose any of

Ancestors was an

Indian national

and who is presently

Holding another

Country’s citizenship /nationality i.e. he/she is holding

Foreign passport

A person registered as Overseas Citizen of

India(OCI) Cardholder

under the Citizenship

Act, 1955


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

adoption of

Indian children.

  • 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

domestic Indian

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

period of

stay is for

more than

180 days


Activities allowed in India

All Activities

Activity as

per the

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

Application for


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.

Source: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1621283