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Foreign residents with roots in India may wish to visit friends or relatives in India and can do so subject to certain stipulations and requirements. Indian Visa Online can help, where necessary.

PIO and NRIs holding OCI or PIO cards do not require a visa since those holding either an OCI or PIO card have the freedom to visit India visa-free. OCI and PIO cards are lifelong visas allowing visits to India. NRIs, therefore, do not need to undergo an Indian Visa Application procedure when in possession of valid OCI/PIO cards. NRIs and PIOs without OCI/PIO cards can, however, apply for either or both through the Indian visa application process.

Firstly, an explanation is required for an NRI. A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) is a resident outside India who is either an Indian citizen or an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholder in accordance with the Citizenship Act of 1955. Anyone resident outside India will be ‘NRI’ if a citizen of India or an Overseas Cardholder. Of the many Indians living abroad, many have taken the citizenship of their country of residence, but nevertheless, have their roots in India. These non-residents of Indian nationality or persons of Indian origin residing abroad are afforded facilities in India without losing their status as a foreign citizen. These include Indian citizens resident abroad for carrying on business or vocations outside India, for employment, or where indicating the intention of an indeterminate duration of stay abroad. Those on temporary assignments for Public Sector and Central/State Governments, or posted in U.N. Organizations, are also deemed non-residents.

An explanation of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) may be necessary. Cardholders enjoy multiple entries, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India and are exempt from reporting to Police authorities during the stay in India.

Eligibility for the OCI scheme (excluding Bangladesh and Pakistan) are:

  • citizens of another country who were a citizen of India at or after the commencement of the constitution; or
  • citizens of another country who were eligible to become Indian citizens at the time of the commencement of the constitution; or
  • citizens of another country who were members of a territory incorporated into India after 15 August 1947; or
  • children/grandchildren/great grandchildren of such citizen; or
  • minor children of those eligible, or one or both of whose parents are Indian citizens; or
  • spouse of a person with the foreign origin of an Indian citizen/Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of over two years.

A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) is, or whose ancestors were, an Indian national, and who holds citizenship/nationality of another country or a foreign passport.

Eligible persons can apply online for registration as OCI. The OCI card is a smart card which facilitates faster immigration clearance at the Immigration Check Posts, benefits holders in securing various Consular Services from Indian Missions. Applicants submit the application form online, together with the following documents:

  1. Proof of current citizenship: valid passport
  2. Within India only, copy of Visa/ Residential Permit with 3 months validity
  3. Proof of ancestral citizenship or other eligibility such as a copy of Indian passport/Domicile Certificate/Copy of Nativity Certificate/OCI or PIO card for self/parents/spouse
  4. The requisite documents in the case of an application for minors/spouse
  5. The photograph must be square, passport-type 51x 51 mm against the plain light color background without a border showing front view of head and shoulders, full face centered. No staples or signature
  6. Signed Application or in the case of minors too young to sign, left-hand thumbprint

Following the successful submission of the application online, original supporting documents must be submitted to the relevant Indian Mission/Post/FRRO for verification. Once the application is verified online with “Uploaded documents verified with originals and found to be correct,” the application is automatically acknowledged online. The applicant immediately receives an automated email confirming, “Application received and is under process.” Original supporting documents are returned to the applicant. Granting of OCI is typically completed within one month from the date of acknowledgment of the application online.

The fee payable for applications submitted to the Indian Mission/Post abroad is US$275 per applicant. For applications submitted in India, the fee is Rs.15,000. For refused or unsuccessful applications for registration, a refund of US$250 is made, with the balance retained for processing. Applications submitted in India will be refunded all but the processing fee, which is Rs.1400. Upon successful registration, a registration certificate is issued in the form of a booklet, which in future serves as a life-long multiple entry visa to visit India. Applicants must be physically present in the country of issuance or formally request from the issuing office permission to procure the OCI Cardholder registration booklet through the Indian Mission/FRRO in their current region.