India: Simplifying Overseas Citizenship Cards Renewals

Jun 4, 2021 | Global

The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card is popular among foreign nationals who are of Indian origin and spouses of foreign origin of Indian citizens. The card provides for hassle-free entry and unlimited stay in India.

According to news reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs has simplified the rules regarding renewals. OCI cardholders are no longer required to have their OCI cards reissued each time they obtain a new passport.

Previously, it was mandatory for OCI cards to be re-issued each time a cardholder 20 years of age or younger obtained a new passport, and also at least once after the cardholder obtained a passport after the age of 50. Although the Indian government never enforced this rule consistently and permitted entry to OCIs even if they had not renewed the card, many OCIs frequently faced issues at foreign airports before traveling to India if they had not renewed the OCI card after being issued a new passport. Different airlines interpreted these rules inconsistently.

The new guidance is summarized as follows:  

  • Card issued before holder turned 20. Those with OCI cards issued before the cardholder turned 20 years old only need to obtain a reissued OCI card once when they obtain a new passport after reaching 20 years of age.
  • Card issued after holder turned 20. OCI cardholders who obtained their OCI card after they turned 20 years of age no longer need to obtain a re-issued OCI card and can continue to use their existing card.
  • New passport obtained after holder turns 50. OCI cardholders who obtain new passports after the age of 50 are no longer required to have their OCI card reissued.
  • New government notification requirements.
    • OCI cardholders 20 years of age or younger must upload copies of their new passports with recent passport-size photographs to the OCI online portal each time a new passport is issued, and once after reaching 50 years of age.
    • OCI cardholders married to Indian citizens or other OCI cardholders who obtain a new passport must upload a copy of their passport with a recent photograph and a declaration that they are still married.
    • Updated documents and photographs may be uploaded by OCI cardholders within three months of receipt of the new passport.
    • Travel restrictions. There are no travel restrictions from the date the new passport is issued until new details are recorded on the OCI portal.

The Indian government has yet to post instructions on updating documents and photographs under the relaxed guidance.


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