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Indian Polity

Overseas Citizenship of India

  • 09 Nov 2019
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Kartarpur Corridor is accessible to the Persons of Indian origin holding the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card.

Overseas Citizenship of India

  • Definition
    • The Ministry of Home Affairs defines an OCI as a person who:
      • Was a citizen of India on or after 26th January 1950; or
      • Was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January 1950; or
      • Is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
    • According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
    • The category was introduced by the government in 2005. The Government of India via Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015 merged the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) category with OCI category in 2015.
  • Benefits to OCI Cardholders
    • OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times, get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, and are exempt from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
    • If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she is eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
    • At all Indian international airports, OCI cardholders are provided with special immigration counters.
    • OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India, buy the non-farm property and exercise ownership rights and can also apply for a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card.
  • Limitations
    • OCI cardholders do not get voting rights, cannot hold a government job and purchase agricultural or farmland.
    • They cannot travel to restricted areas without government permission.

Constitutional Provisions

  • The Constitution deals with citizenship from Articles 5 to 11 under Part II. However, it contains neither any permanent nor any elaborate provisions in this regard.
  • It only identifies the persons who became citizens of India on 26th January 1950 (i.e. when the Constitution commenced).
  • It empowers the Parliament to enact a law to provide for matters relating to citizenship. Accordingly, the Parliament has enacted the Citizenship Act, 1955, which has been recently amended in 2015.

Person of Indian Origin

  • A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) means a foreign citizen (except a national of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal)
    • Who at any time held an Indian passport or
    • Who or either of their parents/ grandparents/ great grandparents were born and permanently resident in India as defined in Government of India Act, 1935 and other territories that became part of India thereafter or
    • Who is a spouse of a citizen of India or a PIO.
  • PIO category was merged with OCI category in 2015.

Source: IE

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