Overseas Citizenship of India

The Overseas Citizenship of India scheme, or OCI is a long term Indian immigration service designed to allow Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) who have migrated to another country and obtained citizenship of that nation, to acquire long-term leave to remain in India.

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Although often referred to as 'Dual Citizenship' this is not in fact what OCI constitutes. For OCI to be granted, the country whose citizenship the applicant possesses must permit dual citizenship.

However, India does not support dual citizenship itself. As a result, OCI offers rights to its holders but not at the same extend as full Indian citizenship.

In addition, while OCI holders can apply for full citizenship after the minimum residency requirement of five years, they will need to surrender their citizenship of the foreign country.

Benefits

As outlined above, OCI does not constitute full Indian citizenship. Holders do not receive an Indian passport, they cannot hold employment in the Indian government, and they will not be granted the right to vote.

However, despite these restrictions, OCI does offer a wealth of benefits to successful applicants.

Unlike the Persons of Indian Origin Card or PIO, discussed elsewhere in this section, OIC is granted for life and again unlike the PIO card, OIC holders do not have to register their presence with the Indian Police Authorities, even if a single visit exceed 180 days.

The OIC route offers its holder the right to travel to and from India, visa free for life with the freedom to study or to seek and undertake employment.

Overseas citizens receive parity with Indian residents in terms of economic, educational, and financial fields, and after 5 years, with one year spent residing in India, if they choose, they may apply for full Indian citizenship.

However, it is important to note that this would mean surrendering citizenship of the other country.

UK Immigration, Canada Immigration and Australia Immigration allow dual nationality so there are ways to tackle this.

Eligibility

Eligibility for Overseas Citizenship of India like the PIO scheme, is based entirely on the Indian origin of the applicant or that of qualifying members of their family.

OCI is open to anyone who, after January 26th 1950, was either born in India, was an Indian citizen, or was eligible to become one.

It also applies to those candidates with a parent or grandparent who matches the description above. However, in all cases, the applicant's country of residence must allow dual citizenship, otherwise OCI cannot be applied for.

The scheme applies to citizens of any Indian territories and to minors, however, candidates are not eligible to apply if they have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Spouse Immigration and Dependent Immigration

Unlike the Persons of Indian Origin scheme, OCI does not apply to the spouse of a successful applicant unless they qualify in their own right. A foreign national who is not eligible will not be granted based on being married to someone who is eligible for OCI.

Foreign-born children of a Person of Indian Origin may be eligible, so long as one of their parents is also eligible. This is an important point to note, as the foreign-born child of two Indian citizens would NOT be eligible.

Since Indian citizens are by definition not eligible to apply for overseas citizenship, this would make the foreign-born child ineligible to. However, in such a situation, the child could apply for a PIO card. Find out further information on our Business Visa page.

You can begin your application today by visiting our online assessment area and completing one of our forms. Our assessment forms are simple to use, just answer a few straightforward questions and a consultant will be in touch.