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India OCI Card: What it is, requirements, and costs

Traveling to India or making it your long-term residence can be a significant step for people of Indian origin and their spouses.

The OCI Card (Overseas Citizenship of India) is a pivotal document in this journey, granting permanent residency status and numerous rights akin to those of Indian citizens.

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Please note: Although we currently don’t offer the OCI card, we're here to provide essential information and guidance for your future application or when applying for an India visa. We recommend applying with the official OCI services website.

What is the India OCI Card?

The OCI card is a form of identification that allows individuals of Indian origin and their spouses to live, work, and study in India indefinitely.

Benefits and privileges of the OCI Card

The OCI Card grants the holder a lifetime entry to India for tourism, business, study, investment, homeownership, or residency. The OCI card covers all bases, making it an indispensable tool for those looking to maintain a strong connection with India.

It's important to note that while it offers many benefits similar to Indian citizenship, it does not equate to being an Indian citizen in the following ways:

  • No right to vote.

  • No right to hold the offices of Prime Minister, President, Vice President, Chief Minister, Governor, Judge of Supreme Court and High Court, etc.

  • No right to any public services (government jobs).

  • No right to invest in farmland (agricultural property). However, they can still inherit farmland.

  • OCI holders must always possess a valid foreign passport throughout their stay in India.

Who is eligible to apply for an OCI Card?

India's government allows people from other countries to become Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) under certain conditions. If you're wondering whether you qualify, here's a straightforward rundown:

  • You, or any of your ancestors (up to your great-grandparents), were a citizen of India on January 26, 1950, or afterward.

  • Your lineage traces back to a territory that joined India post-August 15, 1947.

  • You're a minor whose parents or grandparents fit the above criteria, and one or both parents are currently an Indian citizen.

  • Spouses of Indian citizens or existing OCI cardholders are also eligible, provided the marriage has lasted at least two years before applying.

  • There's good news for Dutch nationals of Surinamese origin, too: If your ancestors moved from India to Suriname up to six generations ago, you're eligible to apply for an OCI card.

On the other hand, there are a few deal-breakers:

  • If you, or your close ancestors, were once citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh, you're unfortunately out of the running for OCI status.

  • Similarly, if you've served in a foreign military, that might disqualify you. However, there are exceptions based on local laws, like for Israeli citizens of Indian origin who served in the IDF.

  • One more thing to note: If your OCI card came through marriage and you later divorce, you'll lose your OCI status.

  • Any OCI cardholder can renounce their OCI status. After the renunciation, every minor child of that person loses their OCI status.

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Required documents for the application of the OCI Card

To apply for an OCI Card, the typical required documents you'll need to gather are listed below. However, more information may be requested based on your personal circumstances.

Proof of current citizenship

You’ll have to provide evidence of where you currently reside and hold citizenship:

  • A copy of your current passport with at least 6 months validity from the application date.

For applicants within India:

  • A copy of any Indian visa (excluding Missionary and Mountaineering Visas) or a residential permit with at least 3 months validity. (Note that foreign nationals cannot apply for OCI in India while on a Tourist Visa, Missionary Visa, or Mountaineering Visa).

OCI Card fees and costs associated with the application

Standard fees for the OCI Card

Applications made from outside India are charged a fee of US$275. Whether you’re applying from the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, or any other country, these fees remain the same.

Applications submitted in India are charged a fee of ₹15,000 (US$190). Note that these fees can change over time.

Other costs to take into account when applying for an OCI Card

When applying for an OCI Card, applicants should be prepared for several costs beyond the initial application fee. Here's a breakdown of potential extra costs to consider:

  • Passport and document fees: Charges for applying for or renewing a passport, notarizing documents, and copying/printing the required paperwork.

  • Document apostille or attestation: If you're submitting foreign documents, they may need to be apostilled or attested, which incurs additional fees.

  • Professional passport-sized photographs that meet OCI specifications: These can cost more than standard passport photos due to specific size and background color requirements.

  • Translation services: If your documents are not in English, professional translation services may be required to translate them into English or the official language of the application processing country.

  • Travel expenses: Depending on your location, you might need to travel to the nearest consulate or visa application center, which could include transportation, accommodation, and food expenses.

  • Application center service charges: Some application centers or third-party service providers charge a service fee over and above the government fees for processing OCI applications.

  • Legal and professional fees: If you opt for assistance from a legal advisor or a professional visa service to ensure your application is correctly filled out and all necessary documents are in order, their services will add to your costs.

  • Miscellaneous charges: Additional photocopies, minor corrections, or re-submission of documents if there are errors or omissions in your initial application.

These additional expenses can vary depending on individual circumstances, location, and specific requirements of the application process.

How and where to apply for the OCI Card

Applications for OCI can only be done online on the official Indian government website. From there, follow the process as described on the portal or as below.

Step 1: Check your eligibility for the OCI Card

The above eligibility criteria can give you some guidelines on whether you are eligible for the card. However, the online portal will also help you determine if you can apply for the OCI Card.

Step 2: Gather and upload the required documents

Upload a passport photo that meets the government guidelines, and gather the required documentation (more info below) in PDF form.

Step 3: Submit your online application

After submitting your online application, you’ll receive an Online Registration Number. Keep this number safe to check your application status later on.

Step 4: Visit a visa processing center

Once you've finished submitting your OCI application online, you'll receive a notification from an official visa processing agency, like VFS Global, with further instructions.

These steps usually include printing the completed application form and supporting documents, bringing these along to your appointment, and arranging to pay the application fees at the nearest processing center.

Once your application is approved, your OCI Card (and other essential documents like your passport) will be delivered by post.

How to track the status of your OCI Card application

You can check the status of your OCI Card application online here. Use your registration number to track the OCI status after submission.

OCI application status meaning

When you track your status, you’ll see one of the following updates:

  • Under process: The application has been registered.

  • Processed: The OCI card has been granted, and the card is being processed.

  • Dispatched: The OCI card has been dispatched. It takes about 10-15 working days from the date of dispatch for the OCI card to be ready for collection or posted to the applicant.

If you can't find your application status, there's a chance it didn't get registered properly. This could be because some documents were missing or there was a mix-up with the application category. Don't worry, though — they'll reach out to you to sort it out, either asking for the missing information or sending your application through again, but in the right category.

Indian Woman Taj Mahal

Do you need a different Indian Visa?

If you’re not eligible for an OCI Card or you’re just visiting India on a short trip, we have good news. You can apply online through us for short-stay visas such as an Indian tourist-, business-, or medical eVisa.

Here’s an overview of the visas available on our site:

  • India Tourist eVisitor Visa: This visa can be applied for online and is meant for tourism activities like sightseeing, holidays, and visiting family or friends.

  • India Business eVisitor Visa: This visa is designed for those wanting to expand their business in India, attend business events, and meet with (potential) suppliers, clients, and business partners.

  • India Medical eVisitor Visa: This visa is for those who want to undergo specific medical treatment in India.

Contact us for more info about traveling to India

If you have questions about an Indian visa or travel document or need help applying for one, let us know via online chat or WhatsApp. Our agents are available to assist!

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