When I submitted my OCI card application in Bangalore FRRO, it really didn’t seem like I had already spent a whole year or so in this beautiful southern city after getting my India Entry Visa extension in the same FRRO.
Well, it seems like it was just yesterday that I came to India as a tourist and got married.
2 years passed just like that.
Getting married, applying for visa conversions, extensions, RC/RP transfer, change of address have all been part of the deal for these two years. I have had my share of ordeals with the Indian bureaucracy along with my husband.
And honestly speaking from both my husband’s and my experience, the bureaucracy is not really worse than any other country when it comes to visas.
That being said, my OCI card is approved finally. I can sigh a breath of relief. I don’t have to go for the visa extensions every year and worry about changing my address and a bunch of other stuff. And I can work in India legally.
And I get other OCI rights, that I will cover in the article.If you plan to apply OCI from India, then this article is definitely gonna help you out. If you apply OCI card in USA or any other country outside India, then the process will be a bit different, but you would start out all the same.
What is OCI Card Exactly?
I have heard people referring to it as OCI Card Visa, OCI stamp on passport, etc, but it’s not a visa. It’s definitely not a stamp on your passport.
It’s more like a booklet similar to a passport, only without so many pages. From time to time, people call it an OCI card. I do that as well.
What are the OCI Card Benefits?
There are a lot of benefits of OCI cards. Here are some common questions that people ask about OCI rights.
Can OCI Work in India?
Yes, they can. As an OCI holder, you can easily work in the private sector, while there are some limitations to working in Government jobs and the Military.
You can work as long as you want, in any capacity, hold multiple jobs- basically anything that applies to an Indian citizen. You wouldn’t need a work visa.
Can OCI Open Bank Account in India?
Yes, they can, without any help from anyone like their employer or Indian spouse (if applicable). Although I must mention that you can open an Indian bank account even without having OCI.
Can OCI Buy Property in India?
OCI Holders can buy and sell land, houses, etc. in India. They can buy or sell vehicles, businesses, and almost anything.
However, an OCI can’t acquire agricultural properties or plantations.
Does OCI Need FRRO Registration?
As a foreigner in India, you need to be registered with an FRRO once you stay beyond 180 days in most cases. That involves police verification and a lot of bureaucracy.
As an OCI cardholder, you don’t have to do any of that.
OCI PAN Card: Can OCI Have PAN Card?
Definitely. You can apply for a PAN card after getting an OCI card. However, you don’t need to have an OCI card to apply for a PAN card. Same as a bank account.
You can apply for a PAN card before you get OCI whether you work or not. I got my PAN card in long before I thought to apply OCI.
What are the OCI Card Limitations?
Can OCI Vote in India?
No, OCI cardholders can’t vote in India.
Do OCI Card Holders Need Special Permissions for Anything?
Yes, they would need prior permissions for a few things like
- Undertake missionary and tabligh activities
- Protected are permits to visit some areas in India that are protected areas.
Who Can Get Indian OCI Card?
If you fall into any of the below-mentioned categories, you are eligible for an India OCI card.
- A child or a grandchild or a great-grandchild of an Indian citizen
- A minor child of an Indian citizen or OCI cardholder
- Spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or OCI cardholder
- A citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after 26th January 1950 or someone who was eligible to become a citizen at that time
What are the OCI Card Eligibility Factors?
While depending on your connection with India, you might be eligible for an OCI card, there are certain conditions and time limits that further affect your OCI card eligibility.
Case 1: Foreigner Spouse of Indian Citizen or OCI Card Holder
This was my case. So I will talk about this one first.
If you are a foreigner spouse of an Indian citizen or OCI cardholder, you can apply for the OCI card only when
- You have been married for at least 2 years.
- You have a long-term visa (that’s not a missionary or mountaineering or Tourist) valid for at least 3 months if applying in India.
- After You have resided in India for more than 180 days continuously(only if applying in India).
Case 2: Child with Indian or OCI Holder Parents
In case you are a child whose parents are OCI cardholders or Indian citizens (one or both), you can apply for the OCI card whenever you can. There is no waiting period.
When Can You Apply for Overseas Indian Citizenship?
So the when part is important for a couple of reasons.
See, the OCI card processing can take 60 days or more. It involves interviews, verifications, and all that.
So if you are applying OCI in FRRO India, make sure that you would be in India for at least 3-4 months. Leaving India when the OCI card application process is underway, may jeopardize the process.
Where to Submit Application for OCI in India?
You can submit the OCI application in India is one of the FRROs that has jurisdiction over where you live. It’s also important to note that not all FRROs accept OCI applications.
Here is the list of 12 FRROs where you can apply for Overseas Indian Citizenship.
- FRRO Ahmedabad
- FRRO Amritsar
- FRRO Bengaluru
- FRRO Chennai
- FRRO Cochin
- FRRO Delhi
- FRRO Hyderabad
- FRRO Kolkata
- FRRO Kozhikode(Calicut)
- FRRO Lucknow
- FRRO Trivandrum
- FRRO Mumbai
Here is a map with address and contact details to help you out.
OCI Card Requirements to Register Online
Before filling in the OCI application online, you need to get ready with the OCI card requirements so that you can finish it in one go.
OCI Photo Requirements for Online Application
While filling in the online application, you need to make sure that you are adhering to the photo requirements for OCI application online, otherwise, it will be rejected.
As per the requirements of OCI online application, you need to upload a pic that should be
- jpeg or jpg
- equal in height and width: a square
- ranging from 200 by 200 pixels to 1500 by 1500 pixels
- not bigger than 500kb
Signature to Upload
Your signature should be of
- an aspect ratio of 1:3
- JPG format
- 200 pixels (width) x 67 pixels (height) to 1500 pixels (width) x 500 pixels (height)
Supporting OCI Card Documents
All the supporting documents must be in PDF format and not more than 1000 KBs.
The supporting documents can vary depending on the applicant’s profile. They include
- Passport bio page of the applicant
- Copy of visa if applying in India
- Copy of marriage certificate if applying as the spouse of an Indian citizen or OCI holder, indicating that the marriage has taken plan before 2 years on the date of application
- Passport or OCI or Nativity/Domicile certificate
- OCI Card/ PIO card of parents/ spouse along with the base papers/ documents upon which the OCI/ PIO card was issued;
In the case of minors, whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India:
- Copy of child’s birth certificate
- Copy of Indian passport of the parents / one of the parents or copy of the Domicile Certificate or Nativity Certificate issued by the Competent Authority in respect of the parents/ one of the parents
- If the parents are divorced, a court order of dissolution of marriage, which specifically mentions that the legal custody of the child is with the parent who is applying for the OCI card.
Step 1: Fill in OCI Card Application Online
Before you start filling in the OCI card application online, make sure that you have the required documents ready.
Fill in all the details in BLOCK LETTERS.
1. Visit the OCI Website for OCI Registration Online
The official OCI website is where you can fill in your application, upload the documents and submit it. You need to go for “New OCI Registration”.
2. Fill in OCI Application Part A
You will begin with part A where you would need to fill in all your personal details like
- Date of birth
- Citizenship details and place of birth
- Passport details
One important field here is your connection to India. It can that you are applying as a foreigner spouse of an Indian citizen like me or coz’ your parents/grandparents were Indian citizens or you yourself were one.
In my case, of course, I chose the YES option to the question on the spouse of an Indian citizen. Then I had to fill in the details of the marriage.
Then you would need to fill in your profession and present address.
Make a note of the temporary application Id when filling in the application, so that if something goes wrong, you don’t have to start from square one.
3. Upload Image and Signature
Once you are done with Part A, you need to upload your photo and signature as per the OCI photo specifications that I mentioned earlier in the requirements section.
4. Complete OCI Part B
Once you are happy with image uploads, a file reference number will be generated and you can proceed to part B of OCI application.
In the OCI application part B, you will be asked some standard questions. They ask these kinds of questions in most of the visa applications.
- If you have dual nationality
- If any member of your family has applied OCI in the past
- Have you ever been convicted by the Court of Law of any country?
- Have you ever been engaged in cyber crime / terrorist activities / sabotage / espionage /genocide / political killing / other acts of violence?
- Whether the applicant (other than minor child/children) has worked/is working in Armed Forces/Para-military/Police/Security/Intelligence organizations?
5. Upload the Required OCI Documents
After completing OCI part B, you need to upload the supporting documents for your application to prove your Indian origin. The proof of Indian origin is your passport or OCI card or a Nativity certificate.
In my case, I uploaded PDFs of
- My passport bio page
- Copy of my India X visa
- Indian marriage certificate
- My husband’s passport as Indian origin proof
If you got married outside India, make sure to upload the apostille page of the marriage certificate here as well.
6. Note the OCI Registration Number
The OCI Registration number is what you get when you submit the OCI application on the OCI website. Using this, you can re-upload the documents and photos and signature, etc.
And you will be asked for this when you visit the FRRO.You can upload and re-upload documents until the OCI application is registered by the Indian Mission/FRRO. Once it is registered, you can’t upload any new documents.
Step 2: Pay the OCI Card Fees
Once your apply OCI card online, and get the OCI registration number, you need to pay the fees for OCI application.
OCI Fees in India and How to Pay
If you are submitting OCI application in India, the only mode of payment is through a demand draft from any Indian Bank (except Co-operative Bank / Societies). The OCI fee in India is 15000 INR.
The demand draft that I got was in favor ‘PAO (Secretariat), MHA’ and should be payable at New Delhi, as per the email I received from the FRRO Bangalore.However, I would request you to get the demand draft in favor of “Pay and Accounts Officer (Secretariat)”. This is displayed on the OCI website. The DD should not be older than 15 days on the date of document submission.
See Abhishek’s comment on this.
I got mine from HDFC bank.
OCI Card Fees in USA & outside India
OCI card fees in USA or any other country outside India are $275. However, you might need to pay some extra amount as a service charge and all if you are applying through a third-party agent.
Step 3: Get OCI Appointment in FRRO/Indian Embassy
If you are applying as a foreigner spouse of an Indian citizen in an FRRO in India, you would need a prior appointment coz’ in general the OCI card in your case would be different than all other cases.
Not to mention that it also involves interview(s).As a foreigner spouse, you can’t just walk in for OCI card application in India. The same goes for foreigner spouses applying in an Indian embassy outside of India. You need to email them and ask for an appointment.
However, if you are applying OCI in any other category, then you might be able to get a walk-in appointment.
Coming to my case, I and my husband walked in as the email from the FRRO said so. But when we got there, they said we couldn’t just come like that. Turns out that they sent the email that they send everyone.
We told them about the email and then they agreed to do it on the same day as they weren’t super busy. So I guess we were lucky.
Step 4: Show up for OCI Appointment & Interview
So now that you have an appointment, it’s important to the documents that you need to carry for your appointment.
OCI Documentation for Appointment: What to Carry?
1. OCI Photo Size for Physical Application
When you complete the online application and visit the FRRO or Indian mission to submit the hard copy of the application and other documents, you need to submit 3 photos that will be affixed to your application.
Here are the OCI Card photo requirements
- light blue-colored background
- 50 mm X 50 mm ( Some FRROs/embassies might ask 51 mm X 51 mm, so check with them.)
- Both ears should be clearly visible and the applicant face should be without Glasses, Cap or Scarf
- 80% of the photo should be your face only.
2. Original Passport
Carry your original passport as well as the original passport of your Indian spouse. If your spouse doesn’t have a passport, a nationality or nativity certificate, or other things that prove that he/she is Indian would work.
But passport is the best proof of course.
If your spouse is not an Indian national but an OCI/PIO card holder, they need to bring the OCI/PIO card.
Make three copies of both your passport and your spouse’s passport or OCI/PIO card.
3. Three Printouts of OCI Application Form Part A & B
Make 3 photocopies of the OCI application form that you had downloaded after filling in the application online. Sign them and take them with you.
4. Three Copies of Indian Address Proof
So if you are renting a place, the rental agreement would be the document you need. Make sure that the rent agreement is between you and the actual owner of the place, and not some third-party broker or someone who leased it from the owner.
A rental agreement with a third party can come and bite you later.
If it’s your own house, then sale deed of the house and electricity bill would do the trick.
5. Original Marriage Certificate and Three Copies
Take the original Indian marriage certificate and three photocopies of the same. It would really help if your marriage certificate is apostilled by MHA in India. It makes it look more authentic.
If you got married in any other country and apply OCI card in India, then make sure that your marriage certificate is apostilled by the Indian embassy in the country where you got married. Make sure that the photo copies also have the apostille.
You also might need to get the certificate translated if it’s not in English.
6. Three copies of Your Visa
But if you are working, and have a work visa or you have a student visa, that’s fine. No need to convert.
OCI Interview for Foreigner Spouse
If you are applying for OCI as a foreign spouse, get ready for some OCI questions, aka, one or two rounds of formal interviews. This doesn’t happen with other types of OCI applications in India or abroad.
In my case, they interviewed me and my husband separately first and then together. They have a standard set of 15 or so questions but trust me they will ask anything so as to get an idea whether or not yours is a real marriage
The round one interview for me went on for 15 minutes or so, while my husband’s interview took 10 minutes. These interviews were pretty formal and the interviewing officer wrote down all our answers.
Questions were like:
- Where did you meet?
- What are your in-law’s names? How old are they? What are their professions?
- Siblings of your husband? Their name, profession, etc.?
- How many times have you traveled outside of India/where you live during the marriage? Why?
- What is your profession? Have you ever worked in the police/military?
- Details of your husband- profession, age, date of birth, phone number, etc.
And then we were interviewed together for 15 more minutes with a senior official. Not sure if that happens with everyone. Although the questions were similar to the first round, the second interview was more relaxed and casual.
Biometrics for OCI
Once they accept your application, you would need to provide the biometrics. This will be done right there and then, so you won’t need to visit the office again for this.
Step 5: India OCI Acknowledgement
Once your interview is done, and you have provided the fingerprints, the FRRO or Indian mission would internally file your OCI application. They do internal verifications and then the application is submitted.
Local File Reference Number
You get the file reference number only after the FRRO or embassy receives your application, verifies the documents, does the interview, receives the OCI fees, and submits your application internally.
Usually, you would receive an email or phone call with this local reference id, but don’t be surprised if you don’t. Simply call or email them after a month or so.
This is a unique numeric reference number that is shared with the police station and you can use it to get your OCI once approved.
This local file reference number is the proof that your application is acknowledged.
Step 6: OCI Application Verifications
After you submit the application, you shouldn’t leave India or the country where you are applying. At least for a couple of months or until you have received the card.
If you have to leave, it’s better to inform the FRRO or embassy of the same.
If you apply in India, there are two or more rounds of verifications.
1. Police Verification for OCI Card in India
If you apply OCI from India, the police verification starts once your application is acknowledged, and you are done with the interviews.
Police verifications are part of India X Visa extensions and a bunch of other stuff. So no surprise there.
We got a call from the police station for the verification who wanted us to visit the police station the next day with all the required documents.
We carried the following documents:
- the originals of all the documents we had submitted when applying
- a passport pic of mine with color background, not the square pic I had used in OCI application earlier
We also had to carry two more documents and write a letter at the police station.
Documents from Neighbors
The police verification needed two of our neighbors(can be friends as well) to write letters saying that we lived in XYZ address from XYZ date and they knew us. It had their Aadhar number, phone number, address, and signature.
This was a very simple letter that we composed, printed and put their data.
Self-Declaration Letter at Police Station
When we got to the police station, I was asked to write a very detailed letter that would cover
- my passport details
- my visa details, arrival in India, converting from tourist to spouse visa, visa extensions
- move from Gurgaon to Bangalore, reason behind the move
- marriage date, where I got married etc.
This was a hand-written letter on plain paper where I had to start with my personal details and provide the details of all the events like arrival, marriage, visa conversion, move, etc. in chronological order along with the dates and numbers.
I still don’t get what exact purpose this serves since they already had everything.
2. FRRO Physical Verification at Your House
A visit from a functionary of FRRO is one of the OCI card requirements. Usually they would inform you a day or few days in advance about their visit. The visit itself wouldn’t take longer than 10-15 minutes.
In my case, I wasn’t available the day the FRRO official planned to visit the first time. So we rescheduled it for later. However, because of the pandemic, the visit never really materialized.
Instead, we got on a long phone call where I and my husband answered all their questions.
Step 7: Receive the OCI Card
Now that all the verifications are done, your OCI application processing would start. And no matter which FRRO you apply at, the actual processing happens in New Delhi, through the MEA(Ministry of External Affairs).
If everything is fine, you would receive an email from the FRRO to come and collect the OCI card. You would need to carry your original passport and visa when you go to get it.
How to Collect Indian OCI Card?
I collected the OCI card from Bangalore FRRO a couple of months after it was issued. Couldn’t do it earlier due to the COVID lockdown.
I didn’t really have to show any acknowledgment of OCI application. I had carried the originals and photocopies of all the documents I had submitted with the application as per the email.
But they weren’t necessary, it turned out.
I simply had to provide a copy of my X visa and show my original passport and sign a couple of places.My OCI card only has an issue date and no expiry date. It also says that it’s lifelong. And it has 4 or so pages like an Indian passport.
What is the OCI Card Processing Time?
The OCI processing time can vary any time from 4 weeks to 6 months. It all depends on the applicant category and where you are applying. If the particular FRRO/Indian mission is pretty busy, then it can again take longer.
Also if you messed up any documents, expect delay in your application processing.
Most of foreigner spouses that I know, got their OCI cards usually in 2-3 months.
In my case, it took somewhat 2 months for the OCI application to be processed. And if you consider the COVID outbreak and the lockdowns, I would say it was processed pretty fast.
You can see my timeline here. Mine started in Feb 2021 and got complete in April 2021.
OCI Status Enquiry on OCI Website
In order to check OCI status, you need to visit the official OCI website and check the status of your application.
For this, you need to provide your passport number and the OCI Registration Number, that you got after submitting the OCI application online.
How Was Your Experience with OCI Card Application?
Did you apply for OCI Card in India? Maybe you got OCI in USA? Or some other country? How was your experience?
Let us know in the comments.