Applying for an OCI card when living out of India

The Overseas Citizenship of India card also known as the ​OCI card​ is an immigration status
permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in the Republic of India for as long as they want, without having to keep applying for a visa. Demand for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora from developed countries lead to the introduction of the OCI card. Many developed countries allow their citizens to have dual citizenship, but that is not the case with countries like India, where the Constitution does not support dual citizenship.

The OCI card was an improvement to an older document called the PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card which has a few drawbacks and was not as efficient. The OCI was introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August 2005.

OCI cardholders who applied for their cards while they were under 20 years require to get their OCI cards reissued when renewing their passport, after it runs out of validity, according to the Consulate General of India. People who are above 20 years of age are exempted from ensuring this criterion of validity.

As applicants get older, the reissue of their OCI card is not compulsory along with a reissue of the passport. These are the new rules for those within the age bracket of 21 to 50 years. However, if they do not plan on reapplying for the OCI card on their updated passport, and they want to travel, they have to carry their old passport that has the card, issued on it to prove its validity. Since people are not allowed to travel on an expired travel document, they also have to carry the current one.

Those above 50 years of age are required to get their OCI cards reissued once when renewing their passport after turning 50. It is also recommended in the Consulate General of India’s press release that the Overseas Citizen of India cardholders carry the expired passport along with their current or new passport when travelling to India.

A total of 32,53,912 foreign nationals have been registered as OCI cardholders. 4,14,906 OCI cards have been issued instead of person of Indian origin (PIO) cards till March 2019, according to the home ministry’s annual report for 2018-19. Additionally, the Prime Minister stated that people with a PIO card are allowed entry into India without changing it to an OCI card, however, the embassy no longer issues PIO cards and all the newer applications have to be for an OCI card.

The Government allows ​Indian overseas citizens abroad​ to go through the process at any of the Indian Missions abroad or they can handle the same through the website or when they travel to India. The process is quite simple and needs people to fill out the ​OCI application​ and attach enough proof to show that they have roots to India. There are specific documents to be submitted, and a list is mentioned at the office and the website.