India to Cancel OCI Cards: Eligibility, Benefits, and Restrictions

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In a recent development, the Indian government has announced plans to cancel certain Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, stirring a wave of questions and concerns among the Indian diaspora. Here, we delve into the eligibility criteria, associated benefits, and limitations of the OCI card, shedding light on this pivotal issue.

News Summary:

  • The Indian government is set to cancel specific Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, prompting a closer look at eligibility, privileges, and limitations for OCI cardholders.
  • OCI cards offer numerous advantages to foreign nationals with Indian roots, including visa-free travel, property ownership, and employment opportunities in India.
  • However, stringent criteria and potential restrictions may impact OCI cardholders’ ability to maintain their status.

Eligibility Criteria:

OCI cards are typically granted to foreign nationals who have Indian ancestry or are married to Indian citizens. Eligibility criteria include:

  1. Indian Origin: Individuals of Indian origin up to four generations removed are generally eligible.
  2. Marriage to Indian Citizen: Spouses of Indian citizens may also apply.
  3. Parents/Grandparents: Children and grandchildren of Indian citizens can obtain OCI status.

Benefits of OCI Cards:

OCI cardholders enjoy several privileges, including:

  1. Visa-Free Travel: OCI cardholders can visit India without needing a separate visa.
  2. Property Ownership: They have the right to own property in India.
  3. Employment Opportunities: OCI cardholders can work in India, subject to certain restrictions.
  4. Access to Financial Services: They can open bank accounts, invest in India, and more.

Limitations and Restrictions:

Despite these advantages, OCI cardholders should be aware of the following limitations:

  1. Voting Rights: OCI cardholders cannot vote in Indian elections.
  2. Government Jobs: They are not eligible for government jobs in India.
  3. Security Clearances: Access to certain sensitive areas and positions may require additional security clearances.
  4. Renewal Requirements: OCI cards must be renewed every 10 years, which may entail additional documentation.

Government’s Rationale:

The decision to cancel some OCI cards comes as the government aims to streamline the system, citing the need for enhanced scrutiny and security measures. A government spokesperson stated, “This move is aimed at ensuring the integrity of the OCI program and addressing potential concerns.”

Reaction from the Indian Diaspora:

The announcement has sparked mixed reactions within the Indian diaspora. While some appreciate the government’s efforts to strengthen the program’s integrity, others express concerns about potential disruptions to their lives and businesses in India.


As the Indian government prepares to cancel certain OCI cards, individuals holding these cards must stay informed about the evolving regulations. Understanding the eligibility criteria, benefits, and restrictions associated with OCI cards is essential for the Indian diaspora to navigate this significant development effectively.

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