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The OCI Process: A Complete Overview
As a result of Indian emigration, over 15.6 million people of Indian descent live outside the Republic of India. Many of these people wish to visit or return to India, and they can do so by obtaining the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) immigration status.
OCI status was created specifically for Indian emigrants, and anyone of Indian descent can apply. We put together this article to give you a detailed guide of the OCI process: where to apply, how to apply, how long it takes, and everything else necessary.
Read on to learn more, or check out our video What is Overseas Citizenship of India? How to get OCI!
What Is Overseas Citizenship of India?
Until 2005, the Indian government did not permit dual citizenship, and this prevented many people of Indian descent from living and working in India. In response, the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2005 was passed. The 2005 act created the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) category to allow foreign citizens of Indian origin to live and work in India.
However, OCI is not equivalent to Indian citizenship, and most countries do not consider OCI to be citizenship of another country. OCI status has certain restrictions: individuals with OCI status cannot vote in India, run for election, or purchase agricultural properties, among other things.
The Indian government considers the OCI a multipurpose visa that is valid for life. OCI cardholders are not required to report to authorities about the length of their stay in India, and OCI status is not dependent on employment.
Who Is Eligible for OCI?
You may be eligible for OCI if any of the following conditions apply:
- You were a citizen of India at any time between now and January 26, 1950.
- You were a citizen of a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947.
- You were eligible to become a citizen of India on January 26, 1950.
- You are the child or grandchild of an individual to whom any of the above conditions applied.
- You are a child with one parent who is a citizen of India.
- You are the spouse of an Indian citizen or OCI cardholder and have been married for at least two years prior to applying for an OCI card.
OCI Application Process
You can submit your OCI application in one of two ways: in person at a CKGS office, or by mail.
You will be required to provide proof demonstrating that you, your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents meet the eligibility requirements listed in the section above. The following forms of proof are accepted:
- Indian passport
- Copy of a valid Domicile Certificate
- Copy of a valid Nativity Certificate
- OCI/PIO card of spouse
If you wish to apply in person, then follow these steps:
- Request an appointment at the CKGS office that covers your home state.
- Receive an appointment date.
- Fill out Part A and Part B of the OCI application form.
- Include a photograph, two sets of required supporting documents (one copy for your records), and the relevant application fee with your application form.
- Attend the CKGS appointment at the stipulated date and present your application form.
If you are applying by mail, then send an envelope with your OCI application, photograph, supporting documents, and a check covering the fee to the relevant CKGS office. Make sure you:
- Include a return shipping label and envelope so your documents can be returned to you.
- Make sure the return address is the same as the address in your application; this is your proof of residence.
- Specify the OCI department on the outside of your envelope.
- Include an email and telephone number where you can be reached.
Applications made from within India are charged a $210 fee, while applications submitted from elsewhere must pay a $250 fee.
How to Fill Out the OCI Application
There are two parts to the OCI application process. Part A is an online application that must be completed and then printed out. Be careful with your answers: once you submit them and print out Part A, you cannot go back and make any edits or changes. The only way to fix a mistake in Part A is by applying for a correction under Miscellaneous Services. You will receive a file reference number which demonstrates that CKGS has received your application.
Part B is a form that will automatically print after you complete Part A. You can fill in Part B manually with a pen in blue or black ink. Then you just have to sign Part A and B and you are ready to submit your OCI application.
You can also file a joint application on behalf of your spouse or children (for a maximum total of four applicants per application), as long as all the applicants live in the same residence. If your family has more than four members, then you and your wife can each submit a separate OCI application. Each separate applicant must complete Part A of the OCI application, but only one Part B form must be submitted per family.
Where to Apply for OCI
You must submit your OCI application to a Cox and Kings Global Service (CKGS) application center. If you are already in India on a visa, then you can apply for an OCI card at the nearest CKGS center or at a government office.
There are 6 CKGS centers in the U.S., and each has a different jurisdiction which covers a range of U.S. states. So the CKGS center that you must submit your OCI application to will depend on where you live.
OCI applications are typically processed within 8-10 weeks. However, the processing time depends on the application itself; applications that are submitted incorrectly or missing information may take longer.
Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved in OCI processing and how long each takes:
- Step one: Once an application is submitted, it is sent to the nearest Indian Consulate. If accepted, the OCI card is sent to the consulate from Delhi, India. This step usually takes about 60 days.
- Step two: The Consulate will receive the OCI card, and the applicant must send their U.S. passport to the Consulate. This takes about 3 days.
- Step three: The Consulate matches the U.S. passport with the OCI card. This usually takes one week.
- Step four: The applicant’s nearest CKGS office ships them their U.S. passport and OCI card within 3 days.
How to Track Your OCI Application
The CKGS website has a ‘Track My Application’ page where you can follow the progress of your application. You just have to enter your tracking ID, passport number, and the web file number you were given when you completed your application.
- Complete Guide to OCI Renewal in the U.S.
- How to Track Your OCI Application
- Guide to the New OCI Rules
One of the big advantages of having an OCI card is that multinational companies are more likely to hire you because of how easily you can enter and work in India. The usefulness of OCI status has led to a significant increase in applications, and some Indian consulates have a lengthy backlog. More OCI cards are being granted than ever, and the eligibility requirements for obtaining one aren’t too strict.
If you’re a person of Indian descent there’s a good chance you may qualify for an OCI card. Check out the eligibility requirements and necessary supporting documents listed above and determine if you meet them, an OCI card may be in your future.