Recent OCI card (Overseas Citizen of India) related news is causing concern among Indian origin residents in USA and other countries. Most eligible individuals obtain an OCI card as it facilitates easy travel to India with no restrictions on the duration of stay, professional education opportunities, employment for select professions, adoption options and same entry fees as Indian citizens to museums/monuments/parks etc. Recent news reports are causing concern to many, in the following areas:
OCI card renewal and related issues
The OCI guidelines on renewal which have been in force since 2005 are as follows:
» OCI card is required to be re-issued each time a new passport is required by the cardholder up to the age of 20 years.
» OCI card is required to be re-issued once and acquiring a new passport after completing 50 years of age.
The problem arises when the US passport is reissued. Since the new passport does not have the OCI card endorsement, it is necessary to carry the old US passport. Alternatively, the new US passport can be endorsed with the OCI card number. In the meantime, it is best to carry the old US passport with the OCI card number linked. News reports indicate that several travelers transiting through a third country were denied entry into India because they were not carrying their old passports.
Note that due to COVID-19, expired OCI cards are valid until June 30, 2021.
Buying and Selling property
OCI card holders had no issues Buying and Selling immovable properties like house and land. The only restriction was that it “excluded” agricultural land. In February 2021, the Indian Supreme court ruled “Any sale or gift of a property by a foreigner without prior permission of the RBI would be illegal”. Are OCI card holders considered to be “foreigners” in this case?
The Reserve Bank of India website clearly indicates that an "Indian origin resident outside India" can buy and sell immovable properties without seeking permission from RBI.
9. A person of Indian origin resident outside India does not require any permission to transfer any immovable property in India other than agricultural land/farm house/plantation property, by way of sale to a person resident in India.
Hope we get clarity on this important matter.
Some activities require special permit
India has specified that an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holder shall require a special permit for various activities which includes missionary, journalistic activities or to visit any place which falls within the Protected or Restricted or prohibited areas as notified by the Central Government.