News Polity & Governance

OVERSEAS CITIZEN OF INDIA (OCI)

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Indian Constitution [Paper-II]: Indian Constitution and its salient features

Why in News?

Indian government has revoked author Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizen of India card.

Background

  • An Overseas Citizen of India, or OCI, is a category introduced by the government in 2005.
  • Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) of certain categories as specified in the Citizenship Act, 1955 are eligible for being OCI cardholders.
  • Some of the benefits for PIO and OCI cardholders were different until 2015, when the government merged these two categories.

Who is an OCI?

  • Ministry of Home Affairs defines an OCI as a person who was a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950; or was eligible to become a citizen of India on that date; or who is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
  • According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • This was the ground cited by the government in revoking the OCI card granted to Taseer, whose father was a Pakistani national.

Benefits for OCI cardholders

  • OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times and get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India.
  • They are exempted from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) no matter how long their stay.
  • If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • At all Indian international airports, OCI cardholders are provided with special immigration counters.
  • OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India, buy non-farm property and exercise ownership rights.
  • They can also apply for a driver’s license and PAN card.
  • However, OCI cardholders do not get voting rights, cannot hold a government job and purchase agricultural or farm land.
  • They cannot run for public office either, nor can they travel to restricted areas without government permission.
[Source: Indian Express]

About the author

Talent KAS