Citizenship and Related Issues

Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Visa IssuePriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : OCI, PIO

Mains level : Citizenship related issues of Indian Diaspora


In a bid to allay fears of the OCI cardholders over the temporary suspension of their long-term visas, the Ministry for External Affairs has said the government will soon take an appropriate decision.

UPSC may ask a statement based question in prelims considering various privileges of the OCI cardholders.

What is the issue?

  • A large number of Indian citizens whose children are OCI cardholders and several people of Indian-origin having the card are unable to travel to India, even for emergency reasons, because of the temporary suspension of their long-term visa.

Who is an Overseas Citizen?

  • An 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.
  • The MHA 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.

Privileges to an OCI

  • OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times, get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, and are exempt 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, they can buy the non-farm property and exercise ownership rights and 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 farmland.
  • They cannot run for public office either, nor can they travel to restricted areas without government permission.

Back2Basics

Explained: How an Indian citizen is defined

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