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Global Citizen • Second Passport

A Guide to the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Program

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The Overseas Citizen of India Program, commonly referred to as OCI, is one of the most popular types of residency available to those of Indian origin.

The OCI program allows a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in India for an indefinite period. It was launched to meet the demand from Indians living overseas who want dual citizenship.

One of the main perks is that you’re granted a lifelong visa to visit India, another is that your spouse can be eligible. 

In this article, we take a closer look at the application process and the requirements you need to meet. 

Nomad Capitalist is a turnkey solution for offshore tax planning, dual citizenship, asset protection, and global diversification. Find out more here

Overseas Citizen of India – A Closer Look

The OCI is currently one of India’s most popular immigration programs. There are  a high volume of applications almost all the time. Still, it’s one of the easiest second residency programs to get into.

The application can be made online via their website, making it easier for those applying outside of India. As well as lifelong access, Overseas Citizen of India card holders are exempted from registering with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office for any length of stay in India.

The OCI Registration Booklet is treated as your identification for any services rendered. Each OCI cardholder can simply present an affidavit by a Notary Public stating that a particular address can be treated as their residence in India. It’s also possible to give an overseas address.

Eligibility for the OCI Program

As mentioned, Overseas Citizen of India is one of the easiest second residency programs for ordinary citizens to get into. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur or an investor to apply. Unlike most immigration schemes like Europe’s Golden Visa or the Caribbean’s Citizenship by Investment.

All you need to apply for OCI is to be of Indian origin. That’s the main criteria. However, there are sub-criteria that you should fall under to be eligible. 

To know if you’re eligible for the OCI Program, you need to fall under one of the following categories:

  • You may be a citizen of another country but were a citizen of India at the time or after the commencement of the constitution.
  • You may be a citizen of another country but were eligible to become a citizen of India at the commencement of the constitution.
  • Those who are citizens of another country but belonged to a territory that became part of India after the 15th of August 1947.
  • Those who are children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren of a citizen of India.
  • Spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application.

Potential applicants should bear in mind that citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh are ineligible.

Can OCI Lead to Second Citizenship?

India’s OCI Program can also lead to citizenship. This is why it’s a good option for those looking to diversify their second passport portfolio. In short, if you’ve been registered as an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder, then you are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.

Bear in mind that you would need to have been registered for five years. Not only that, but you need to be ordinarily resident in India for 12 months before your citizenship registration.

In special circumstances, various cases are determined by the Indian Government where applicants can reduce the 12 months to 30 days. However, this isn’t a normal process and you still need to inquire to India’s immigration officials as it’s on a case-to-case basis.

How to Get a Citizen of India Card

To start the due diligence process for your OCI application, each potential applicant must prepare the necessary documents, as follows:

  • Your current and valid passport with a minimum of six months validity at the time of your application submission.
  • If married, you need to submit your registered marriage certificate or an equivalent. You also need to provide proof and the current passport of your spouse or partner. This is to endorse their name on their OCI Card.
  • You will need to provide your proof of employment with a detailed job description.
  • If currently unemployed, you will need to provide proof of your last employment with the detailed job description.
  • If applicable, you need to show proof of your business.
  • Those who are currently studying must provide proof of their enrollment or a Student ID Card.
  • Your proof of residence is also required. These can be proven in the form of your utility bill, driver’s license, or any other proof of your current address.
  • A copy of your appointment’s confirmation letter.

The documents you need to provide as a spouse of a foreign citizen or an Overseas Citizen of India cardholder are: 

(i) Registered marriage certificate. 

(ii) In the case of the spouse of an Indian citizen – a copy of the Indian Passport of the spouse or a copy of the Domicile Certificate or Nativity Certificate issued by the Competent Authority in respect of the Indian spouse or any other proof substantiating the status of the spouse as being an Indian citizen.

(iii) In the case of the spouse of an OCI Cardholder – a copy of the present valid Passport of the spouse and copy of the OCI card of the spouse and copies of the documents upon which the Overseas Citizen of India card was issued to the spouse. 

Each applicant should bear in mind that immigration officials might ask for further documentation. However, it’s still on a case-to-case basis, and it depends upon the category under which they’re applying for their OCI.

The turnaround time is around four to six weeks from the start of the due diligence process.

How to Apply for Overseas Citizenship of India

Each applicant needs to pay $275 if they’re submitting from outside India. Then it’s INR 15,000 or approximately $202 for those applications submitted within India.

Almost all applications are processed similarly. However, there are different documents that you will need to show depending on the application route that you will be going through.

Those who are former Indian passport holders are eligible to apply, and the basis of their application is based on their Indian origin. If this is the case, they would need to provide their Naturalization or Registration Certificate, the Surrender or Renunciation Certificate of their Indian Passport. Plus, a copy of their old Indian passport’s first and last page.

Applicants born in India but have never held an Indian Passport can also apply given that they provide the necessary documents. They would need to provide their Birth Certificate, and the Exit Permit or Stay Visa issued after their birth in India. Plus, the Exit Stamps on their passport when they first left India.

If you were born in India between the 26th of January 1950 to 30th June 1987, then you will need to show your Birth Certificate that’s issued by the Indian Government. You would also need to show proof of Indian origin from your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents.

Those applicants born outside of India and have never held an Indian Passport can apply based on their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents’ Indian origin. They would also need to provide their Birth Certificate. Plus, they would need to verify their relationship with the person on whose behalf they’re claiming their Indian origin.

Plus, proof of this relative’s Indian origin will also be required.

Other Requirements of Your Dependent’s OCI Application

If you’re applying for a child, then there are mandatory requirements that must be met. You will need to present the current passport of both parents. If their parents are divorced, then a Court Order of the Dissolution of Marriage with the Child Arrangement Order should be provided.

In the case of live-in, adopted, or surrogate children, all relevant documents need to be submitted alongside the application. If both parents also share joint legal custody of the child, then a duly notarized consent letter from both parents must accompany the application.

If you’re applying under the foreign spouse category, you need to be married for at least two years. The turnaround time for this application is about ten to twelve weeks, as the applicant must go through a police check. Then a consent letter from your spouse to issue the OCI on the basis of Indian origin should be duly signed and dated is the last requirement.

Other Notable Requirements to Consider 

All applicants who are applying via their spouse will have to visit a VFS Center alongside their qualified spouse. This is a necessary step when submitting their Overseas Citizen of India application.

There might be an interview somewhere in the application process. Some of these interviews may be taken over audio or video calls. It’s best to keep in mind that you will be interviewed by officers from the High Commission so these interviews may be formal.

As mentioned, citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh are ineligible to apply for OCI. It doesn’t matter if they were previously citizens of India. Your dependents can’t be tied to either of the countries mentioned above. Not only that, if the child’s parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were at any point citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh, then they would not be eligible.

Why India’s OCI Might Be for You

If you’re a registered OCI cardholder for five years and ordinarily resident in India for twelve months you can apply for Indian citizenship. (There’s an exemption from registration with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in India.)

If you are of Indian origin, then applying for the Overseas Citizen of India program may well be of benefit. Not only is it inexpensive, but it’s one of the easiest second residency programs to be accepted for. Plus, it can lead to second passport diversification.

If you want to learn more about how you can take that next step, we’d be more than happy to help. Click here to find out how!

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