Who is an OCI?

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OCI vs NRI vs PIO? Here is all you need to know about the different statuses

Ever wonder what happens to your legal standing and rights as an Indian citizen when you live overseas for a while? Or if you marry and have a family with someone who isn’t Indian–do your children have to get a visa to visit the country? Here is your explainer on the different immigration statuses India offers.

Who is an OCI and what is the OCI card? 

An Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) is a person who is technically a citizen of another country, but is granted several rights and freedoms enjoyed by Indians. An OCI card then, is a long-term visa available to such citizens of other countries who have familial links to India. It entitles them to a lot of the same benefits as NRIs and Indian citizens.

OCI vs NRI: what’s the difference?

An NRI, or Non-Resident Indian, is anyone who holds an Indian passport but lives and/or works overseas. NRIs enjoy all the benefits afforded to any citizen living in India. OCIs don’t have many of these rights.

  • NRIs have full voting rights for all Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and Legislative Assembly/Council elections. OCI holders cannot vote in any elections.
  • NRIs can stand for public office. OCI holders cannot.
  • NRIs can purchase agricultural land. OCI holders cannot.
  • NRIs can conduct research work without any prior permission. OCI holders must get prior permission from the local Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRRO).

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