India is a popular destination for visitors due to its diverse range of attractions and possibilities. The country offers a lot; from the majestic Taj Mahal and ancient temples to beautiful sanctuaries and bustling cities.
No wonder why many people try to find a convenient way to visit it. One of them is to obtain a Lifetime Visa known also as an OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card.
The OCI card program was introduced in India in 2005 to provide travel benefits for people of Indian origin who are nationals of other countries. OCI card holders can stay and work in India indefinitely without the need for a visa.
What is more, the OCI card is issued to eligible applicants who are registered as Overseas Citizens of India. Keep reading to learn more about this topic.
India OCI card
The OCI card is a multiple-entry, multi-purpose travel document that is an incredibly useful tool for those who wish to visit India. OCI cardholders don’t need to renew a lifetime visa each time they enter India. They can stay in the country for as long as they want, provided that the OCI card is valid.
Also, it is important to update OCI documents if there are any changes in the information such as a different address or other details; otherwise, it could lead to some problems.
OCI cardholders are allowed to enjoy the same legal rights and privileges as those with Indian passports. So they can work, study, buy properties, etc. Note that this card is only valid in India and that you need to keep it with you when you travel to the country.
As an Overseas citizen of India with an OCI card, you are able to enjoy many benefits while visiting India. It is a very interesting option for everyone who is eligible.
Indian OCI card validity period
The OCI card can be treated as a lifetime visa, so it is valid all the time as long as you renew it at the age of 20 and 50 (when the passport is renewed as well).
In case an OCI cardholder obtains a card before he/she is 20 years old, it is required to issue a card once again.
Who is eligible for an OCI Card?
If you are a foreign citizen (except for Pakistani and Bangladeshi) who wants to become an OCI cardholder, you need to meet the eligibility criteria. Generally, you should prove that you have a valid PIO card or an Indian origin. To do so you can show:
- proof you are from a land that became Indian territory after the independence (Sikkim, Pondicherry, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Goa, Daman, and Diu)
- you could become an Indian citizen on 26th January 1950
- you had Indian citizenship on 26th January 1950 or after this date.
OCI card application process
Registration as an OCI cardholder is very simple. In order to do it, you should consider the following steps:
- determine your OCI type and gather the required documents
- fill in the application form at a government website
- register with VFS Global and cover the fee
- submit an application form with the necessary document attached
- check your application status and wait for approval.
As you can notice, it is very simple to become an OCI cardholder.
India lifetime visa requirements
You can become an OCI cardholder if you were eligible to become an Indian citizen on 26 January 1950 (also after that date) or if you are from a land that became Indian territory after the independence (your children and grandchildren are eligible for it as well). Also, remember about paying the fee.
Registration as OCI cardholder is possible when you collect all the required documents. Generally, you need to prepare:
- completed application form
- valid passport
- proof of Indian origin (like an old Indian passport, Birth certificate, etc.)
- contact details (email, telephone)
- proof of address, marital status, and legal status.
Note that you will be asked for supporting documents depending on your OCI card type. Remember to print out a copy of the documents checklist and sign it along with the application form.
You need to submit originals as well as photocopies of documents. You will receive the returned originals after approval from the Embassy of India.
Benefits of a lifetime visa
An overseas citizen of India who has a lifetime visa can enjoy many advantages:
- multiple entries to the country with various purposes
- no need to report the stay
- travel to India visa-free and stay in the country for an indefinite period of time
- it is allowed to purchase property, open bank accounts, obtain PAN cards, and be employed in India
- access to special healthcare privileges
- the right to live and work in India
- Indian OCI holders are also eligible for various scholarships and grants from the government.
All in all, the lifetime visa is a very useful, travel document with many benefits. It grants the same rights as an Indian passport. If you are eligible, it is advisable to consider this option as it is very convenient.