Complete Guide to OCI Renewal in the U.S.

Updated on August 12, 2023
At a Glance: The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is an immigration status granted to foreign nationals of Indian origin, allowing them to live and work in India indefinitely. It serves as the closest equivalent to dual citizenship offered by the Indian government. An OCI card certifies your eligibility and provides benefits such as a lifelong visa, exemption from certain registration requirements, and privileges similar to non-resident Indians (NRIs). Renewal of the OCI card is required for those under 20 years old with a new passport and at the age of 50 for visa re-issuance, while other circumstances may require re-application and obtaining a new OCI visa.

OCI has been a game-changer since it was introduced in 2005, in response to the demand for dual citizenship. While PIO has always been around, it lacked several features that a foreigner of Indian origin would expect. An OCI card functions like an Indian visa, which provides you with many of the benefits of an NRI. In this article, we will discuss who should renew their OCI card and how to do it.

What Is an OCI Card?

Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is a type of immigration status granted to a foreign national of Indian origin. The OCI card can be used to legally live and work in India indefinitely. This is the closest thing to dual citizenship offered by the Indian government since the Constitution of India prevents anyone from holding dual citizenship.

What is the Purpose of an OCI Card?

An OCI card certifies that you are a foreign citizen of Indian origin and are allowed to live and work in India. Per the Indian Home Ministry, you are eligible for an OCI card if:

  • You were eligible to become an Indian citizen on Jan. 26, 1950.
  • You belonged to a state or territory that became part of India after Aug. 15, 1947.
  • You are a child/grandchild/great-grandchild of such a person.
  • You are a minor child of such a person mentioned above.
  • You are a minor child of a citizen of India.
  • You are the spouse of a foreign citizen of Indian origin or an OCI cardholder.

You must satisfy at least one of the above requirements to apply for an OCI card. You are not eligible if you or your parents are citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Renunciation of Indian Citizenship

Before applying for an OCI card, you must apply for renunciation of Indian citizenship, since India does not allow dual citizenship. If you have an Indian passport, you are required to surrender it.

Once the OCI card is issued to you, you can enjoy the following privileges:

  • Multiple-entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa for visiting India
  • Exemption from certain foreigner registration requirements
  • Benefits on par with NRIs, whether it be financial, economic, or educational

When to Renew Your OCI Card

The OCI card comes with lifetime validity and does not need to be re-applied for. But to keep records up to date, the OCI registration certificate and visa sometimes have to be re-issued. OCI cards need to be renewed in the following cases:

New Passports Issued up to Age 20

OCI cardholders under the age of 20 are required to renew their OCI card each time they receive a new passport within a stipulated time frame. Along with renewing OCI documents, they have to pay applicable fees as required.

New Passport Upon Turning 50

Once you reach the age of 50, you must apply for OCI card renewal and have your visa re-issued. For those between the ages of 21 and 50, there are no mandatory requirements to get your card re-issued. Similarly, after the age of 50, it is not mandatory to renew your OCI card every time you get a new passport. You can show your old passport with the OCI “U” visa stamp along with your new passport, and it’ll be accepted. As of 2015, it is no longer necessary to get your OCI “U” visa transferred to your new passport when your old one expires. So you can relax. If your old passport expires, you can travel to India with your expired passport, your OCI card, and a new valid passport.

In Cases of New Documents

When you get new documents that affect your old passport, you need to re-apply for OCI registration and get the new OCI visa with a “U” stamp on it. Fees apply. After you get your new visa, you are not required to carry your old passport with you.

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Final Thoughts

The processing time varies, but you should expect to wait at least 8 to 10 weeks. You will be informed of all the processing stages by the Consulate via email. You can also make inquiries using your reference number. After your OCI card is issued, you can visit India and get all its benefits. Above all, you will finally be home, where you have always belonged.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.