The OCI application process could be simple and straightforward. In this passage, you will learn about what is oci, how to apply for oci card in india, difference between pio and oci, difference between nri and oci, etc.

How to Apply for OCI Card in India

There is a growing number of Indian diasporas who play an important role in their residing countries and homeland. The government issues corresponding certificate cards for people with different identities in order to guarantee the convenience of their work and study. And today, we are going to give you an ultimate introduction to OCI application. 

What is OCI

OCI refers to an immigration status offered to foreign citizens of Indian origin. As dual citizenship is prohibited according to Indian law. OCI acts as an alternative for the Indian diaspora to work and live within the country without restrictions like other foreigners.

OCI Card Benefits

OCI card is a residency proof issued to OCIs. Before we go further to talk about how to apply for OCI card in India, let’s learn about why you should apply for it. OCI citizenship share equal rights in economy, finance and education as NRIs, but rights for agricultural land or plantation property are not included. OCI card benefits are specified in the following aspects.

  • Enter India Without Visa

OCI card serves as a life-long visa with no expiry. The holders could visit India without applying for or renewing the visa without unlimited time and frequency, which makes it more convenient to travel in and out of India.

  • Stay in India Without Restriction on the Length of Residence

Foreigners with a tourist visa can stay in India for up to 180 days while OCI card holders could stay in the country as long as they like.

  • Exempt from Registering with Local Police

Foreigners who stay in India for over 180 days with common visas have to register with the police so that the authority could track their visa status at any time. However, OCI citizenship could  exempt from the registration and trip report.

  • Pay Once for the Whole Life

Applicants have to pay for each application for India visas while OCI application charges fees once and remain valid for the whole life, eliminating the trouble of constant renewal fees.

Eligibility for OCI

Those who want to apply for OCI in India must comply with at least one of these criteria.

  • Citizen of foreign countries but was an Indian citizen at the time or at any time since Jan. 26, 1950;
  • Citizen of foreign countries but was a citizen of a territory that became part of India since Aug.15, 1947;
  • Citizen of foreign countries but was qualified to be an Indian citizen since Jan. 26, 1950;
  • Offspring of citizens above;
  • Minor children of citizens above;
  • Minor children whose parent(s) is Indian citizen(s);
  • Spouse of foreign origin of an Indian citizen or spouse of foreign origin of an OCI and have been married and living together for more than 2 years.

How To Apply for OCI Card in India

Required Documents & Prerequisites for India OCI Application

Before submitting application, you have to prepare the following documents:

  • Passport within validity (at least six months before expiration). Please note that British passports must be submitted with signatures on the observation page.
  • Registered marriage certificate and Indian passport or OCI Card of your spouse (for married person).
  • Proof of employment/business.
  • Proof of address such as utility bills or rental contracts.
  • Proof of your eligibility of Indian origin, such as parents, grandparents, great grandparents’ citizenship.
  • Birth certificates and parents’ marriage certificate for minors with OCI-eligible parents.
  • Applicants’ OCI photo (For more information, please refer to Photo Requirements for OCI Card)

Step-by-step Guide for India OCI Application

When it comes to how to apply for OCI card in India, it includes online application and offline visits. Please move on to learn about the step-by-step guide.

  • Complete the online form

Please visit the Online OCI Service Website. After learning about the general introduction of OCI, proceed to fill in the forms correctly. Remember to print out the application form and sign it, which will be used in the offline visit.

online OCI service website

  • Upload documents online

For the sake of recognition and security, please upload these documents in PDF format with a size of less than 1000 KB.

Then remember to print out a proof of the uploading status which is required to be provided while providing the physical supporting documents.

  • Make an appointment at the application center

After completing the online form, next comes the appointment process at the VFS India Consular Application Centre. Once the appointment is accepted, you will receive a confirmation email and a letter. Please print the letter and bring it to the Application Centre.

  • Visit the application center

Please go to the OCI application center with the documents you submitted online, the appointment letter and the proof of the uploading status. The officer would take your fingerprints and photographs. Payment has to be fulfilled too.

  • Track status of your application

The application status could be checked online whenever you want. Once the application center accepts you submission, there would be an email sent to you in which you can check the status with the reference number on the receipt. Or you can learn more about updated information through SMS.

Cost of OCI

The cost of OCI application relies on where you submit the application and whether you’re PIO cardholder or not. The payment should be fulfilled by demand draft.

If you apply out of India, it costs applicants without PIO cards $275 in total and applicants with PIO cards $100.

If you apply from India, it costs applicants without PIO card Rs. 15,000 in total and applicants with PIO card Rs. 5,500.

Processing Time of OCI

It usually takes 5-6 weeks to prepare a new OCI card. There might be a delay if there is any technical issue or for spouse-based cases. Please don’t confirm your travel plan before you got the card.

Difference Between NRI, PIO and OCI

Those who live out of India can be mainly divided into three categories: Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).

NRI refers to Indian citizens who live overseas for over 183 days (included) in a financial year. They hold Indian passports and have the eligibility to vote.

PIO refers to foreign citizens who or whose ancestors are Indians. They hold foreign passports other than Bangladesh and Pakistan.

When it comes to their differences, we have to point out that these three terms come from different categories. NRl means a residential status for the sake of calculating income tax. PlO refers to an individual. OCl is a card indicating the car holder’s immigration status.

Difference Between PIO and OCI 

Both PIO or OCI Cardholders are not entitled to purchase agricultural land, apply for positions in work for Indian government offices or vote. It seems that PIO and OCI are synonyms but they do have some differences.

WhatIndividualimmigration status
WhoA person who or whose ancestors was Indian citizens and who is currently holding foreign country’s citizenship/nationality.Immigration status offered to foreign citizens of Indian origin.
Visa required to visit India?YesNo
Registration required with local police in India?Yes (under the condition that period of stay exceeds 180 days)No
Activities to undertakein India?According to the type of visaAll activities excluding research work that requires Indian Mission/Post/FRRO permission. 
Possibility to acquireIndian citizenship?7 years of ordinary residency in India before registration.5-year OCI cardholders and have ordinarily been living in India for a full year.
What benefits one is entitled to?… No specific benefits. Refer to OCI Card Benefits
Fees?/Refer to Cost of OCI Application

Difference Between NRI and OCI

Both NRIs and OCI card holders are not required to apply for visa and register with the local police while staying in India. Their major differences lie in eligibilities and benefits listed in the following chart.

Whatresidential statusimmigration status
WhoAn Indian citizen who ordinarily live overseas with Indian passport.Immigration status offered to foreign citizens of Indian origin. 
Activities to undertake?All activitiesAll activities excluding research work that requires Indian Mission/Post/FRRO permission.
Possibility to acquireIndian citizenship?He/she is already an Indian citizen.5-year OCI cardholders and have ordinarily been living in India for a full year.
Entitled benefits?All benefits as Indian citizens. Refer to OCI Card Benefits
Fees?/Refer to Cost of OCI Application

Photo Requirements for OCI Card

In order to get an OCI card smoothly, we recommend you learn about the general photo requirements below:

  • Paper Photo size: 2″ x 2″ (51 x 51 mm) with the whole face taking up 80% of the photo and it measures 1″-8″ (25-35mm) from the top of head to the chin.
  • Digital template’s size: 200-900 pixels for both width and height, less than 200KB in JPEG/JPG format.
  • Validity: The OCI photo must be taken in the last 6 months
  • Background: plain light-colored and the applicants as the only subject.
  • Quality: The image must be clear and colored, no tearing, stains or PS.
  • Lighting: Let the light evenly distribute on the face without any shadows or reflections.
  • Pose: Keep your head in the center without tilting and look straight into the camera.
  • Facial Expression: Keep your eyes open and mouth closed. Smile is OK but don’t show your teeth.
  • Accessories: Don’t wear sunglasses or glasses with color lenses. Don’t let it obscure your eyes or reflect light. Headgear is not allowed unless for religious reasons.

In the event of your photo is rejected, the OCI card application will be held until a new one is sent, but it extends the time of waiting. If you want to get approval for the first time, you can seek help from the online photo editor tool, AiPassportPhotos. It will determine whether the image is qualified and then resize or adjust it within seconds!


OCI adds more conveniences to work and study in India, but many people have few knowledge of it. We hope that this article could fully address your problems of OCI card, such as what is OCI, how to apply for OCI card in India, difference between NRI, PIO and OCI and what should qualified OCI photos be.