OCI Card Application Process For UK Residents  

Understand what an 'Overseas Citizenship Of India (OCI) card is, its significance, benefits, eligibility, the detailed step-by-step process to apply for an OCI card as a foreign or British national domiciled in the UK, and much more.

The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card is an essential identity document that holds immense value for people of Indian origin and for the individuals in relation to them. It serves as a significant link connecting them to their Indian heritage, culture, and roots. Additionally, it also grants various rights and benefits to its holders, allowing them to establish a strong bond with their ancestral homeland.

Whether you are a 'person of Indian origin,' someone in relation to a PIO, or simply interested in understanding how to apply for an OCI card in the UK, this page will provide you with valuable insights into this important document, its features, eligibility criteria, the rights and limitations associated with holding an OCI card, and much more.

Plus, we will also discuss all the steps you need to follow for filing your OCI card application in the UK.

OCI Card

Definition of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI).
The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), also called as an OIC by many people, is a status given to individuals of Indian origin or descent who are citizens of other countries. 

It is essentially a lifelong visa that allows them to have a special connection with India, even if they have acquired citizenship in another country. The OCI card serves as proof of their status as Overseas Citizens of India.

Difference between OCI and Indian citizenship.
While Indian citizens hold full political and constitutional rights in India, OCI cardholders have certain limitations. OCI cardholders do not possess voting rights, cannot hold public office, and are restricted from specific constitutional positions. 

However, they enjoy many other benefits and privileges that enhance their connection with India. 

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Benefits for OCI card holders.
1. Freedom from visa requirements: OCI card holders have visa-free access to India throughout their lifetime. They can enter and exit the country multiple times without the need for a separate visa.

2. Parity with non-resident Indians (NRIs): OCIs have rights and benefits equivalent to those of NRIs in various aspects, fostering a sense of equality and belonging.

3. Consular protection: Overseas citizens of India receive consular protection from Indian diplomatic missions abroad. They can seek assistance during emergencies, travel advisories, and other consular matters.

4.. Long-term visa-free travel and stay benefits in India: OCIs can stay in India for an unlimited period without the requirement of registering with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO). They can leave and re-enter India without the need for a visa. Unlike regular visas, which have specific validity periods, an OCI can stay in India for as long as they wish without worrying about visa extensions or renewals.

6. Educational opportunities: They have the freedom to pursue education in India, including admission to educational institutions under general categories. They can enroll in various courses, such as medical, engineering, or other professional programs.

7. Employment opportunities: They can work in India in various sectors and job categories. They are not restricted to specific employment sectors, giving them a wide range of career opportunities.

8. Property rights: OCI cardholders can own residential and commercial properties in India, excluding agricultural and plantation properties. They have the same property rights as NRIs, enabling them to invest in the Indian real estate sector with ease.

9. Business and investment opportunities: OCIs have the right to engage in business activities in India, including setting up businesses, partnerships, and companies. They can also invest freely in various financial assets like mutual funds, stocks, bonds, insurance, fixed deposits, etc and contribute to India's economic growth.

10. Financial transactions: They are allowed to open bank accounts like NRO, NRE or FCNR in India, make investments, and purchase non-farm land or immovable property in the country.

These benefits and privileges provided to OIC card holders make it a valuable document for individuals of Indian origin or descent living outside India. It strengthens their ties with India, facilitates travel and stay, and opens up opportunities for education, employment, property ownership, and business ventures.

Eligibility Criteria

A. The following individuals are eligible to apply for an OCI card:

1. Former Indian citizens: Individuals who were citizens of India at the time of or after the commencement of the Indian Constitution (on or after January 26, 1950).

2. Eligible to become Indian citizens: People who were eligible to become citizens of India at the time of the commencement of the Indian Constitution (on or after January 26, 1950).

3. Territory becoming part of India: Those who were citizens of another country but belonged to a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947.

4. Descendants: Children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren of individuals who fall under the first three categories.

5. Minor children: Minor children of parents who are citizens of India or fall under the first four categories.

6. Spouse of OCI card holder: Spouses of foreign origin married to an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder, where the marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application under this section.

It's important to note that the eligibility criteria and specific requirements might be subject to change or further specifications by the Government of India. As such, it's recommended to refer to the official Indian government websites or consult with the appropriate authorities for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding OCI eligibility.

B. Requirements for different categories of applicants:
1. Former Indian citizens: Individuals who have renounced their Indian citizenship or whose citizenship has been canceled are eligible for an OCI card. They need to provide relevant documents, such as a surrender certificate or cancellation of Indian passport.

2. Spouses of Indian citizens or OCI card holders: Foreign spouses married to Indian citizens or OCI cardholders are eligible for an OCI card. They need to provide marriage certificates, proof of spouse's Indian citizenship or OCI card, and other necessary documents.

3. Minor children of Indian citizens or OCIs: Children born outside India to Indian citizen parents or OCI cardholder parents are eligible for an OCI card. Birth certificates, proof of parent's Indian citizenship or OCI card, and other required documents must be provided.

C. Restrictions and considerations for eligibility
1. Citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh: Individuals who are citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh, or whose parents or grandparents were citizens of either country, are not eligible for an OCI card. However, if they can establish eligibility based on other criteria, they may be considered for registration as an OCI.

2. OCI cardholders applying for new passports: If an OCI cardholder obtains a new passport, they are required to update their OCI documents within three months of obtaining the new passport.

3. Dual citizenship: India does not currently allow dual citizenship. Therefore, individuals who already hold Indian citizenship are not eligible to apply for an OIC status. 

4. Other scenarios: Foreign nationals cannot apply for OCI in India while on a tourist visa, missionary visa, or mountaineering visa. Moreover, the foreigner has to be ordinarily resident in India to be eligible to apply for OCI registration in India. 

It is important to carefully review the eligibility criteria and ensure that all necessary documents are provided when applying for an overseas citizen of India card. Adhering to the specific requirements will help facilitate a smooth application process.

How can a foreign/British national apply for an OCI card in the UK?

The application process for people living in the UK is pretty straight forward, and is handled by VFS's UK office in collaboration with the Indian High Commission in The UK. ​VFS Global handles the administrative processing, document verification, and fee collection on behalf of the High Commission or Consulate. Once the application is complete, VFS Global forwards it to the High Commission or Consulate for review and final decision-making. The High Commission or Consulate evaluates the application, conducts any necessary interviews or checks, and issues the OCI card. Together, they ensure a streamlined and efficient process for applicants in the UK.

Here is the step-by-step application process:

Step 1: Start by checking your eligibility before starting your registration. You may check if you are eligible for an OCI card on the Indian Government's official OCI website, or get the OCI application kit here .

Step 2: Identify the right OCI service type that you wish to apply for, and fill out the application. Make sure you fill out the form completely and accurately. After submission of the online application, a copy of the application form.

Step 3: Upload all the necessary documents, including a copy of your current British passport, proof of address in the UK, cancelled Indian passport copy (if you held it before), renounciation certificate (if you have it), passport size photographs, and any other documents that are asked.

Step 4: Once the entire form is filled, and all necessary documents are uploaded and submitted, you will get a 'Online Registration Number (ORN)' that you should save for future reference. And you must download the filled application for future submission. 

Step 5: Now you would be requited to pay the application processing fee and other other charges (including taxes) on the VFS's UK portal for OCI.

Step 7: Once the fee is paid, you would require to book an appointment to physically submit your printed application form along with the copies of your documents and originals. You can select the appointment date with the appropriate VFS branch, in whose jurisdiction you are ordinarily residing. And you would need to print both the appointment slip as well as the payment receipt, as these both would need to be submitted at the VFS UK office, with all your documents that you would be preparing as per the above steps.

Step 8: Finally, you will get the tracking details from the VFS office after you submit your documents for processing in person. OCI card processing time is typically 8-10 weeks. Incomplete applications can cause delays, so ensure your application is complete before submitting it. You can track your application status here.

Step 9: Once your application is approved, you will receive your OCI card by mail. You may also request an in-person collection from the VFS UK office.

In totality, the application process for an OCI card is entirely online and straightforward. Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria, fill out the application form completely and accurately, and upload the necessary documents. Pay the application processing fee online, book an appointment, and submit the application in person. Finally, track your application status and receive your OCI card by mail or physically go and collect it.

List of required documents you need to submit:
- A current valid passport copy
- Date of Naturalisation Certificate copy (Optional: Only required if you have changed to UK Citizenship)
- Proof of Indian origin issued by a competent Indian authority
- Proof of address in the UK (Utility Bill/ Driving Licence copy)
- Two recent passport-sized photographs
- Payment of the application fee in sterling pounds (£)
- Renunciation certificate (if you have surrendered your Indian citizenship) 
- Copy of payment receipt and appointment confirmation letter.

NOTE: You may also be required to submit several more documents depending upon your category and the type of application you choose to file, other than the ones mentioned above, including proof of Indian origin, extra proof of address (POA), and payment of the application fee. Ensure that all documents are self-attested copies, and original documents, including the current passport, need to be submitted for verification purposes. Non-UK passport holders must also provide a valid UK visa copy.

Application fees and processing time:
OCI application fees vary based on the age and category of the applicant. The fees are subject to change, so it is essential to refer to the official website for the updated fee structure. Processing times for OCI applications can vary depending on the volume of applications and other factors.

New OCI application: The fee for a new OCI application is £200.00. Fee remains the same for minors, adults and seniors.

PIO conversion to OCI: If you are converting your PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card to an OCI card, the fee is £75.00.

OCI Renewal (in case of expiry): If your OCI card has expired and you need to renew it, the fee is £21.00.

OCI renewal (in case of lost): In the unfortunate event that you have lost your OCI card and need to renew it, the fee is £75.00.

VFS Charges: There is an additional charge of £7.44 per application for VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) processing. This fee is applicable to all types of OCI applications and must be included with the payment.

SMS Charges (if subscribed): If you choose to subscribe to SMS updates regarding the status of your OCI application, there is an additional charge of £2.00.

Mode of payment:  You can make the payment through Cash, Credit/Debit Card, Postal Order, or Bank Draft payable to VF Services UK Ltd. 

Courier Fees per envelope (Express 1-day delivery): To have your OCI card couriered back to you, there is a fee of £15.00 per envelope. You are responsible for providing a self-addressed envelope for this purpose. Additionally, if you do not provide special delivery envelopes, there will be an additional VFS charge of £8.00 for a 3-day delivery service.

Please note that an additional VFS service fee of £7.44 per application is mandatory for all applicants, regardless of the type of OCI application they are submitting.

Processing time: If approved, your OCI card processing, printing and dispatch will typically take 8-10 weeks.

Here's a table outlining the key differences between Indian citizenship and the OCI card:

Indian Citizenship OCI Card
Definition Full legal membership of India A form of permanent residency for overseas Indians
Eligibility Indian by birth, descent, registration, or naturalization Foreign nationals of Indian origin or spouses of Indian citizens
Right to Vote Yes No (Except for certain cases in local elections)
Passport Can hold an Indian passport Cannot hold an Indian passport
Duration of Stay No restrictions on duration of stay Multi-purpose lifelong visa with some restrictions
Employment Opportunities Can work in any field or government position No government employment, except certain categories
Property Ownership Can own any type of property in India Can own non-agricultural property
Consular Assistance Address proof required (Aadhaar, Voter ID, Passport, Utility bill, etc.). Limited consular assistance provided by Indian missions abroad
Education Full consular support from Indian authorities No specific reservation or quotas for OCI cardholders
Renunciation Access to educational institutions Can voluntarily surrender the OCI card
Dual Citizenship Can renounce Indian citizenship OCI cardholders do not lose their existing citizenship
Restrictions Subject to certain laws and regulations No political rights, including holding public office
Please note that this table provides a general overview of the differences between Indian citizenship and the OCI card, but it may not cover every aspect in detail. It's always advisable to refer to official government sources or consult with legal professionals for specific and up-to-date information.

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Important points to remember:  

- OCI card holders are not authorized to engage in Missionary, mountaineering, or research work in India without prior approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Approval must be obtained before undertaking such activities. 

- In the case of minor children, both parents need to sign in part 'B, of the application form' or a parent's consent letter is mandatory if divorced, or a court order indicating custody of the children. 

- Non-UK passport holders are required to provide their residential address in their respective country. Please note that processing times may be longer for such cases. 

- Applicants applying based on their spouse must submit a registered marriage certificate. The marriage should have been registered and in existence for a continuous period of at least 2 years prior to the application. 

- If the applicant is unemployed, proof of their last employment must be submitted along with the application. 

- Foreign defense/military/police/ex-defense/ex-police personnel are not eligible to apply for OCI, including personnel from the Home Office, Ministry of Defense, and foreign diplomats. 

- Minor foreigners born from live-in relationships or through surrogacy may be granted OCI status if both parents are Indian citizens, or if either parent is an Indian citizen. Stepchildren and adopted children are not eligible for OCI. However, an adopted child who previously held an Indian passport and can present a surrender certificate for the same is eligible to apply for OCI. In addition to the Surrender Certificate and the Indian passport, all other documents required for minors must be provided. Each case will undergo review, and a final decision will be made by the competent authorities. Refund policies apply to unsuccessful applications. 

- Applicants whose birth certificates only mention one parent's nationality, with the other parent's identity unknown, are not eligible for an OCI card. 

- Applicant that fall under the refugee or stateless status, not eligible for OCI. 

- If the applicant is a businessman, they should provide details of their position and the nature of the business conducted by the company on the company's official letterhead. This information should be included with the application. 

- Applicants are required to upload all supporting documents directly onto the application form. Please ensure that the uploaded documents correspond to the available options in the provided drop-down menu. 

- Entry on a diplomatic/official passport cannot be granted based on OCI/PIO cards, as these cards are not issued to foreign diplomats and their family members. However, if the individual holds a valid ordinary passport along with valid OCI/PIO cards, entry can be allowed. 

- If an OCI card holder acquires the nationality of a different country (excluding Pakistan and Bangladesh) after obtaining the OCI card, they will still be allowed to enter/exit India using their new passport from the acquired nationality, along with the OCI Registration Certificate (OCI card). 

- Signatures must be placed within the designated box. In the case of a minor applicant, either the left-hand thumb impression or the signature (if the minor is capable of signing) should be provided in the designated box. For children aged 5 years and above, their names should be written in the signature fields on the first and last pages of the form. Children below 5 years of age should provide thumb impressions instead of signatures. 

- Applicants with a parent or grandparent of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin are not eligible for OCI. 

Limitations of OCI Cardholders

While OCI card holders enjoy significant benefits, there are certain restrictions and limitations they should be aware of:
1. Voting rights: OICs do not have voting rights in India. They cannot participate in Indian elections or hold public office. They are not eligible for certain political positions or constitutional roles.

2. Government employment and political appointments: OCI holders are not eligible for employment in government services, including government-aided educational institutions. They cannot hold government positions or participate in political activities that are restricted to Indian citizens.

3. Constitutional positions:They are restricted from holding certain constitutional positions in India. These positions include the President, Vice President, Judge of the Supreme Court, Judge of the High Court, Advocate General, etc.

It is important for OCI cardholders to understand these limitations to ensure compliance with the regulations and avoid any misunderstandings or legal issues.

Renewal and Miscellaneous

A. Validity and renewal process 
1. Validity: OCI cards are initially issued with a validity of a lifetime. However, the OCI card requires reissuance each time a new passport is obtained by the cardholder up to the age of 20 years and once after turning 50 years of age.

2. Renewal process: To renew an expired OCI card, the applicant needs to submit an online application and provide necessary documents, including the current passport and OCI card, along with recent photographs. The renewal process pretty much same as explained above, and ensures that the overseas citizenship of India status remains updated and linked to the current passport.

B. Updating personal information and changes in OCI status
1. Updating personal information: OCI cardholders are required to update any changes in personal information, such as name, address, occupation, or passport details, within three months of such changes. The update can be done online through the OCI portal, and the necessary documents need to be submitted as proof of the changes.

2. Changes in status: In cases where an individual no longer meets the eligibility criteria or voluntarily renounces the OCI status, it is important to surrender the OCI card and obtain the appropriate visa or status for their current situation. The surrender process should be followed as per the guidelines provided by the authorities.

C. Addressing common concerns 
1. Travel to restricted areas: OCI holders may face restrictions or require special permits to visit certain restricted or protected areas in India. It is advisable to check with the relevant authorities or seek clarification before planning travel to such areas.

2. Dual citizenship: It is important to note that India does not currently allow dual citizenship. Therefore, holding an OCI card does not grant Indian citizenship, and individuals need to abide by the regulations of their country of citizenship.

3. Travel to India during emergencies: In case of emergencies, such as a family member's illness or a death in the family, OCI cardholders can travel to India on the basis of their OCI and a valid passport. It is recommended to carry relevant supporting documents and contact the Indian embassy/consulate for assistance if needed.

4. Re-entry permits: Overseas citizen of India card holders who intend to stay in India continuously for more than 180 days at a time are advised to obtain a re-entry permit from the FRRO. This permit helps facilitate hassle-free exits and re-entries into India. 

Some frequently asked questions (FAQs) by our UK clients:

1. What is the advantage of OCI?
The OCI card benefits refer to the rights you gain, like working rights, living as a resident, and entering India as many times as you want. The OCI card also facilitates visa-free travel to India, rights of residency, and participation in business and educational activities in the country if you are of Indian origin.

2. How long can I stay in India with OCI?
The OCI card is a lifelong visa, and you can enter India with the it without any issues.

3. What is the fee for OCI in India?
The fee varies depending on the country of application. The fee in the UK is £200 (including surcharge). However you would need to pay an additional processing and hadling fee of ​£7.44 to VF Services UK Ltd.

4. How long is OCI valid for adults?
It is a lifelong visa available for Indian-origin citizens.

5. Who is eligible for OCI card in India?
You can acquire an OCI status if you can prove you have Indian origin. The spouse and children of an Indian-origin person are also eligible for an OCI status.

6. Can OCI own property in India?
Yes. Overseas citizen Of India card holders can own property in India except for agricultural land.

7. What can OCI not do in India?
They cannot vote in Indian elections, hold public office or government jobs, or buy agricultural land.

8. Can a person with OCI card work in India?
Yes, they have full working rights in India.

9. Can OCI marry in India?
Yes, he/she can marry in India.

10. What is the proof of citizenship in India?
The proof of citizenship in India is a valid Indian passport that is issued as per The Citizenship Act of 1955. Please be advised that one needs to provide a copy of the cancelled Indian passport along with a renunciation certificate as proof of Indian citizenship while applying for an OCI card.

11. What are the photo requirements for OCI card?
The photo requirements for an OCI application are crucial. The photograph must be in color and taken against a white background. It should be recent (within the last six months) and of passport size. The size of the photo should be 2x2 inches (51x51 mm), with the applicant's full face visible. The photograph must be clear, with no shadows or red-eye effect.

12. What is the full form of PIO and OCI?
PIO stands for Person of Indian Origin, and OCI stands for Overseas Citizenship of India.

13. Do Indian citizens need OCI card?
Indian citizens are not eligible for an OCI status.

14. Which is better OCI or Indian visa?
It is certainly more beneficial than an Indian visa as it offers lifelong visa-free travel to India, rights of residency, participation in business and educational activities.

15. Do OCI need visa for India?
No. They do not need a visa for entering into India. The OCI itself is a travel permit. 

16. Is an OCI dual citizenship?
Having an OCI card implies that Indian citizenship has been renounced and therefore does not equate to having dual citizenship with India.

17. Is OCI the same as visa?
No, OCI is not the same as a visa. It is a lifelong visa available for Indian-origin citizens that facilitates visa-free travel to India, rights of residency, and participation in business and educational activities in the country.

18. How long does it take to get OCI in the UK? 
It takes about 8–10 weeks. However, this processing time may vary, depending on the application category and the jurisdiction you submitted your documents to in the UK (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

19. What is the difference between NRI and OCI?
NRI stands for Non-Resident Indian, while OCI stands for Overseas Citizenship of India. NRIs are Indian citizens who live outside India, while OCI cardholders are foreign nationals of Indian origin (or people related to them) who have been granted certain rights in India.

20. Do OCI have to pay tax in India?
No. They do not have to pay tax in India unless they have income generated in India.

21. What are the disadvantages of OCI card in India?
The disadvantages of the OCI card include losing the right to vote in Indian elections, holding public office or government jobs, buying agricultural land, and surrendering your Indian passport.

22. Does OCI count as another passport?
No. OCI does not count as another passport. It is simply a lifelong visa available for Indian-origin citizens that facilitates visa-free travel to India, rights of residency, and participation in business and educational activities in the country.

23. Can OCI cardholders have a bank account in India?
Yes. They can have bank accounts like NRE, NRO, and FCNR in India as per the rules stated by the Reserve Bank Of India (RBI).

24. What are the new rules for OCI cardholders?
The new rules can be checked on the Embassies Of India website.

25. How do I get an OCI card?
You can acquire the OCI card if you can prove you have Indian origin. The process has been discussed right here.

26. Is PAN card different from an OCI card?
Yes. They are 2 completely different documents. You can check the difference between a PAN and OCI here

27. I have some questions, where can I write?
You can email us all your questions to: One of our experts would get back to you within 24 hours with answers to all your questions.