Friday, August 14, 2009

India: Long Term Stay

In 2006, India launched the “Overseas Citizens of India” (OCI) program, which by many has been mischaracterized as a dual nationality program, as it does not grant Indian citizenship.

An American who obtains an OCI card is not a citizen of India and remains a citizen of the United States. An OCI card is similar to a U.S. “green card” in that a holder can travel to and from India indefinitely, work in India, study in India, and own property in India (except for certain agricultural and plantation properties). An OCI holder does not receive an Indian passport, cannot vote in Indian elections and is not eligible for Indian government employment.



The OCI program is similar to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card introduced by the Indian government several years ago, except that PIO holders must still register with Indian immigration authorities, and PIO cards are not issued for an indefinite period. American citizens of Indian descent can apply for PIO or OCI cards at the Indian Embassy in Washington, or at the Indian Consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Houston. Inside India, American citizens can apply at the nearest FRRO office. For more information on the OCI program, please see http://mha.nic.in/uniquepage.asp?Id_Pk=276.

If a foreign citizen overstays his or her Indian visa, or otherwise violates Indian visa regulations, the traveler may require a clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to leave the country. Such travelers generally must pay a fine, and in some cases, may be jailed until their deportation can be arranged.

It is always good to know certain restrictions on how long you stay, because if you don’t, you may find yourself in trouble. Would you ever want to live in India? Would you want to live on the coast lines, mountains, or in between?

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