If a foreign national is eligible to obtain Indian citizenship, getting an OCI card is the best pick for him/her. With this card, you don't need a visa to enter the country. You can visit India whenever you want!
In case they are not eligible for an OCI card, travelers must obtain a valid Indian visa. In that scenario, your best bet is an Indian e-visa. Keep on reading to learn all about an OCI card and Indian e-visa service.
What Is An OCI Card?
Let's start with the most basic question: what is actually an OCI card? The Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card is a travel document that gives a holder the privilege to live or work in India visa-free. This means OCI card holders don't need to apply for an Indian visa. They will be considered a citizen of India. OCI card is perfect for those who want to enter the country and has an Indian origin.
A foreign national, who belonged to a certain land that became the part of India after August 15, 1947, was a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950, or was eligible to become an Indian citizen on January 26, 1950, provided their country allows dual citizenship, is eligible to get an OCI card. In addition, a spouse and even a minor child can apply for an OCI card.
That being said, India does not offer OCI cards to the citizens of Bangladesh or Pakistan. Besides these two countries, anyone can apply for an OCI card as long as they have proof of their Indian origin.
Costs Related To An Indian OCI Card
If you are eligible, an OCI card is a perfect travel document for you - especially if you travel to India a lot. This document allows you to live or work in the country. You will have all the rights and duties of an Indian citizen under the citizenship act 1955.
To get your OCI card, you'll need to visit the embassy of India. At the embassy, you'll fill out the OCI application and pay the application fee. If you are already in India, you can pay the fee using the demand draft in favor of the "pay and accounts officer ministry of home affairs."
Here's a complete fee structure for OCI card:
New OCI Card
If it's your first time applying for an OCI card, you'll have to pay a consular fee, ICWF fee, and service fee. For both minors and adults, the consular fee and Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) fee are the same: $275 and $3, respectively. However, the service fee might vary depending on your selecting service provider.
OCI Card For PIO Card Holder
A Person in India (PIO) card allows the holder to stay in the country visa-free for a 15-day period. If you are a PIO card holder, you can still apply for the OCI card. The OCI fee for a PIO card is the same: $275 consular fee, $3 ICWF fee, and additional service fee.
Re-Issue Cost Of An OCI Card
In case you have damaged or lost your OCI card, you can request for re-issue. To re-issue an OCI card, the cost is a $100 embassy fee, $3 ICWF fee, and service fee. If you want to renew your OCI card because you have got a new passport, the embassy fee will be reduced to $25.
Renunciation Of An OCI Card
To renunciate an OCI card, you are required to pay both the embassy fee and ICWF fee: $25 and $3, respectively.
Depending on your service provider, you might be able to make a combined payment for all the services!
What If You Cannot Get An OCI Card
So, you are not eligible for an OCI card but want to enter India - what should you do?
Well, the best approach for you is to apply for an e-visa. It is simple, convenient, and fast. You don't even have to visit the Indian embassy. All foreigners, both US passport holders and non-US passport holders, can apply for an Indian e-visa from the comfort of their homes. You only need to follow 3 simple steps to get an e-visa:
Fill out the visa application form
Pay the processing fee
Submit your application
That's it! You will get your electronic visa via email. On average, a foreign citizen will be able to get his/her e-visa within 3-5 business days.
Eligibility Criteria For Indian E-Visa
All foreign citizens with an ordinary passport can apply for an Indian e-visa. However, before you apply for your visa, make sure you are not:
Diplomatic/official passport holder
Laissez-passer travel document holder
International travel document holder
A citizen with a criminal history
In addition, make sure to get a health declaration form before visiting India. Also, it is advised to get a covid-19 vaccination certificate to avoid self-isolation!