NRI and OCI card holders overview. Most common questions and answers.


Did you know that India is the second most populated country in the world with nearly a fifth of the world’s population? According to the United Nations in July 2016, the population stood at 1,326,801,576. India is projected to be the world’s most populous country by 2022, surpassing the population of China. It is expected to become the first political entity in history to be home to more than 1.5 billion people by 2030, and its population is set to reach 1.7 billion by 2050. Its population growth rate is 1.2%, ranking 94th in the world in 2013. The Indian population reached the billion mark in 1998.

India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan (source: wikipedia).

Apart from Indians living in India, there is also a huge part of Indian citizens living and residing abroad. As per the Ministry of External Affairs, there is approximately 30.8 million Indian diasporas residing outside India. To fully understand how these numbers grow so fast, NRI and OCI abbreviations come in picture you should be familiar with. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the full name of NRI?

A Non-Resident Indian is a term used for a person who is an Indian citizen but has migrated to another country. Apart from this, it is also used to represent a person who is an Indian origin but born outside India. This often also includes Indian born individuals who have taken the citizenship of other countries.

What does it mean: OCI?

Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is a scheme that was introduced in response to demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries. It was introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August 2005.

Is OCI citizenship?

The Indian government’s Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) program is often incorrectly described as “dual nationality” or “dual citizenship.” This is not true, as India does not accept dual citizenship. If anyone of OCI cardholders decides to get Indian citizenship,  under section 5(1) (g) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, he/she has to be registered as OCI Cardholder for five years and is ordinarily resident in India for twelve months before making an application for registration.

Is there any restriction for persons registered as OCI?

  • Cannot take up the public employment;
  • Cannot vote in India;
  • Cannot contest elections to Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha/Legislative Assembly/Council;
  • Cannot hold Constitutional posts such as that of President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court/High Court and cannot be appointed to public services and posts in connection with affairs of the Union or of any State, etc.

How long does it take to get an OCI card?

That depends – if the application does not contain any errors, if there is not a festive period for governmental offices, if there’s no strike in India, if… If you are lucky, you might get it in 60 days as website guidelines say but – get ready for delays. Sometimes it might be done in 3-4-5-6 months. It depends from case to case. Just be patient and check the status online.

Can the OCI card be canceled?


  • the OCI card registration was obtained by fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact or
  • the registered OCI Cardholder has shown disaffection towards the Constitution of India
  • or comes under any of the provisions of section 7D of the Citizenship Act, 1955,

the registration of such a person will not only be canceled forthwith but he/she will also be blacklisted preventing his/ her future entry into India.

Can an NRI inherit a property in India?

Yes, an NRI or OCI card holder or even a foreign national of non-Indian origin can inherit and hold property in India. This includes residential and commercial property, agricultural, plantation and farmland.

Comparative chart on NRI/OCI cardholder



OCI cardholder

WhoAn Indian citizen who is ordinarily residing outside India and holds an Indian PassportA person registered as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Cardholder under section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955
Who is eligible
  • Who was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after the commencement of the Constitution i.e. 26.01.1950;
  • who was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26.01.1950;
  • who belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947;
  • who is a child or a grandchild or a great-grandchild of such a citizen;
  • who is a minor child of such persons mentioned above;
  • who is a minor child and whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is 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 registered under section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 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.
ApplicationEligible persons go through online application
Applying in India or elsewhereIf the applicant is in India, he/she can apply at the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or to the Under Secretary, Citizenship Section, Foreigners Division, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)


If the applicant is abroad, he/she should submit the application to the Indian Mission/Post of the country of applicant’s citizenship, or; where he/she is not in the country of citizenship, to the Indian mission/post of the country in which he/she is ordinarily resident.

Fees (as of 2019)
  1. in case of application submitted in Indian Mission/ Post abroad – US $ 275 or equivalent in local currency.
  2. in case of application submitted in India – Rs.15,000/-.
Which nationals are not eligibleNo person, who or either of whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder
What benefits one is entitled to?
  1. Multiple entry lifelong visa for visiting India for any purpose (However OCI Cardholders will require special permission to undertake research work in India for which they may submit the application to the Indian Mission/ Post/ FRRO concerned).
  2. Exemption from registration with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in India.
  3. Parity with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) 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.
  4. Registered Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder shall be treated at par with Non-Resident-Indians in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children.
  5. Registered Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder shall be treated at par with resident Indian nationals in the matter of tariffs in airfares in domestic sectors in India.
  6. Registered Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder shall be charged the same entry fee as domestic Indian visitors to visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India.
  7. Parity with Non-Resident Indians(NRI) in respect of:
    1. entry fees to be charged for visiting the national monuments, historical sites and museums in India;
    2. pursuing the following professions in India, in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts,
    3. to appear for the All India Pre-Medical Test or such other tests to make them eligible for admission in pursuance of the provisions contained in the relevant Acts.
  8. State Governments should ensure that the OCI Cardholder registration booklets of OCI Cardholders are treated as their identification for any services rendered to them. In case proof of residence is required, Overseas Citizens of India Cardholder may give an affidavit attested by a notary public stating that a particular/specific address may be treated as their place of residence in India and may also in their affidavit give their overseas residential address as well as e-mail address if any. Any other benefits to an OCI Cardholder will be notified by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) under section 7B(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
Does he/she require visa for visiting IndiaNoCan visit India without visa for life long
Is he/she required to register with the local police authorities in India?NoNo
What activities can be undertaken in India?All activitiesAll 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 citizenAs per section 5(1)(g) of 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: BOI)

Guidelines regarding online application

Before filling the application, read the instructions carefully so that there is no mistake in the submission of the application. Any discrepancy will lead to delays of already long process. All data provided here are dated: September 2017, please check for updates and contact respective FRROs for the same when you are about to apply.

  1. Fill in the online application
  2. Start registration from Part-A, then upload Image and signature; and finally complete Part-B.
  3. Documents supporting your application have to be uploaded in PDF format at the end of Part-B
  4. After completing the application, the hard copy has to be submitted to the selected mission’s office.
First page of online OCI application form (source:
Photograph requirements for OCI cardholder application (source:

Note: Photographs that do not conform to the above standards will be rejected and may cause a delay in processing the applications.

Full set of instructions for OCI cardholder application photo requirements can be found here -> CLICK

Guidelines regarding submitting the application

  1. Fees paid in India should be paid only in demand draft. Abroad – debit cards are accepted.
  2. No third party is allowed to submit the application. Due to security reasons – one has to do it in person (exception goes to minor applicant. Appearance of minor children is not mandatory).
  3. All documents should be submitted in two individual sets for all the applicants. Each set should comprise of Part A, Part B, and supporting documents.
  4. Save a copy of the OCI Applications for your records

Documents I personally submitted for my OCI card in India (on basis of marriage with Indian citizen)

  • on-line application
  • appointment letter
  • my passport copy
  • my husband passport copy
  • marriage certificate copy
  • address proof (i.e rental/lease agreement)
  • visa copy (*if applying abroad – your/+your husband residence permit copy)
  • 2 photos 51x51mm (it has to be the same photo as in your online application)
    • Full set of instructions for OCI cardholder application photo requirements can be found here -> CLICK
  • payment confirmation (demand draft in India. Debit card/cash payment in UK ie)

Guidelines regarding online status checking and collection of OCI cards

  1. OCI cards are printed in Delhi. So respective FRRO’s process it from local/regional offices and send it for headquarters for further verification. To check the status -> CLICK
  2. If any application/information is incomplete, the application will be sent back or the applicant will be contacted by email provided on the application.
  3. Whoever applied for OCI card is requested to get his OCI card in person in the same FRRO office the application was submitted. If the status mentions – “ready for collection” and one receives mail from FRRO that can come and collect it, then the OCI card is ready for collection.

Few important things on your waiting time

  • Make sure you are not away from your place of residence during the application process and waiting time. You should expect FRRO / police verification. The visit is quite unannounced and you should be ready with all the documents and answers to authorities questions (and sometimes bribe as they ask for it quite often).
  • Check your current visa validity – even if you submitted the application within your visa duration, the OCI collection should also happen when your visa is valid. So do not risk to exceed the visa expiry date as you will get fined and requested to extend your current visa/apply for a new one.
  • Expect delayed response or no response from the OCI support team. There are plenty of such applications and getting to the right person for the right update is almost a miracle.

Few important things on OCI card. Summary

  1. OCI card is issued with lifelong validity BUT you need to replace it every 10 years your national passport date expires. So for each new national passport, you need to update your OCI card with a new national passport number.
  2. Exceptions for this lifelong validity occurs.
  3. OCI card loses its validity if the application went through marriage reason and you are divorcing your spouse.
  4. It can be canceled.
  5. You can renounce it you want-declare so.

I would love to hear your comments on this! What is your experience in getting the OCI card? Any other recommendations, suggestions you would like to share? Thank you very much for reading this article. I am curious if you have/had any experience of yours? Any comments? – please share your experience. And if you liked the article – share it, click “Like it” and subscribe to my newsletter.

(Cover photo source)