The changes taking place with the OCI card to make it more accessible to the Indian diaspora

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Over the last couple of years, the Indian Government is working on making changes to the way that people can apply for their OCI card. They introduced an online platform where they could begin with the process of applying for their OCI cards without leaving homes. They could also get through it at their convenience and could then upload their documents, and the Indian mission would process all the content that they receive and get through it faster. India has the largest diaspora with 18 million people living around the world, out of these, India has six million OCI cardholders.

The OCI card was previously the PIO card which was changed and shut down since it needed a  lot more documents and the benefits of using the card were about the same. It did not make much sense for people to get through a more tedious process when there was a better and easier one.

The applicants have to fill out the OCI application forms, and they can get assistance about them online. Ideally, since people have to apply for their OCI card using their passport, they get away with most of the information available there. However, they do have to prove that they are of an Indian origin and there are several documents that they have to provide to prove that.

Here is a list of the supporting documents and certificates that they have to provide:

  • Printed Application form:
  • Two photographs as per the photo specifications
  • Copy of Foreign Passport
  • Copy of Naturalisation Certificate, if applicable.
  • Applicants, who obtained Foreign Nationality by Naturalisation have to submit their Naturalisation Certificate (Original) along with the other documents.
  • All applicants should submit the originals copies along with a copy of the Proof of Indian Origin documents.

The Indian missions abroad as well as within the country prefer coordinating the OCI card online and not in person. However, there are exceptions where they get it done in person, but the process takes longer and is not easy to coordinate.

The process usually takes between a week to a month, depending on when the individual applies for their OCI card, as well as, the backlog the mission goes through to fast track the process.

People who hold OCI cards benefit from the process since they save a lot of time having to keep applying for an Indian visa every time they have to come to the country, but that is only beneficial if they do come to India often.

Additionally, there they do lose out on some of the benefits of an Indian citizen since they are surrendering that for the nationality of another country. Some of those are the ability to stand for office or vote in an election since these are rights of Indian citizens. Additionally, they cannot own agricultural land, which is another perk they have to give up.

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