Overseas Citizen of India, Person of Indian Origin and Citizenship (Amendment) Act

Overseas Citizen of India

A foreign national,

  • Who was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after 26th January, 1950; or 
  • Who was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January, 1950; or 
  • Who belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15th August, 1947; or 
  • Who is a child or a grandchild or a great grandchild of such a citizen; or 
  • Who is a minor child of such persons mentioned above; or 
  • Who is a minor child and whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India – is eligible for registration as OCI cardholder. 
  • Besides, spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application is also eligible for registration as OCI cardholder. 
  • However, no person, who or either of whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.
  • Foreign nationals cannot apply for OCI in India while on Tourist Visa, Missionary Visa and Mountaineering Visa. Moreover, the foreigner must be ordinarily resident of India to be eligible to apply for OCI registration in India.


  • Multiple entries, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India.
  • Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India
  • Parity with NRIs in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

Person of Indian Origin (PIO)

  1. PIO means a foreign citizen( except a national of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh , China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal)
  2. A foreign citizen whose one of the parents/ grandparents/ great grandparents was born and a permanent resident of India.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019:

  • The amendment proposes to permit members of six communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — to continue to live in India if they entered India before December 14, 2014. 
  • It also reduces the requirement for citizenship from 11 years to just 6 years. 
  • Two notifications also exempted these migrants from the Passport Act and Foreigners Act. 
  • The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds. These include: (i) if the OCI has registered through fraud, or (ii) if, within five years of registration, the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, or (iii) if it becomes necessary in the interest of sovereignty and security of India.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 is not applicable:

  • These provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District.
  • Further, it will not apply to the “Inner Line” areas notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. In these areas, visits by Indians are regulated through the Inner Line Permit.
  • Currently, this permit system is applicable to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Manipur has also been brought under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime through a Gazette Notification on the same day the bill was passed in the parliament.

Different Scenario in Assam: Many organisations in Assam protested against this act as it may grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu illegal migrants. The justification given for the act is that Hindus and Buddhists are minorities in Bangladesh, and fled to India to avoid religious persecution, but Muslims are a majority in Bangladesh and so the same cannot be said about them.

  • Assam witnessed large-scale illegal migration from erstwhile East Pakistan and, after 1971, from present-day Bangladesh. 
  • This led to the six-year-long Assam movement from 1979 to 1985, for deporting illegal migrants. 
  • The All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU) led the movement that demanded the updating of the NRC and the deportation of all illegal migrants who had entered Assam after 1951. 
  • The Assam Movement against illegal immigration eventually led to the historic Assam Accord of 1985, signed by the Movement leaders and the Rajiv Gandhi government. 
  • It set March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for the deportation of illegal migrants. 
  • Since the cut-off date prescribed under articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution was July 19, 1949 – to give force to the new date, an amendment was made to the Citizenship Act, 1955, and a new section (6A) was introduced. 

Section 6A:

  • The section was made applicable only to Assam. 
  • It laid down that all persons of Indian origin who entered Assam before January 1, 1966 and have been ordinary residents will be deemed Indian citizens. 
  • Those who came after 1 January 1966 but before March 25, 1971, and have been ordinary residents, will get citizenship at the expiry of 10 years from their detection as a foreigner.
  • During this interim period, they will not have the right to vote but can get an Indian passport.
  • In Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (2014) where the constitutionality of the 1986 amendment was challenged (the Mahasangha argues that the cutoff year for Assam should be 1951 instead of 1971), the court referred the matter to the Constitution Bench. 
  • To examine whether Section 6A is constitutional and valid though it prescribes a different cut-off date for Assam (1971) from the one prescribed in the Constitution for the rest of the country (1949). 
  • A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court is yet to examine the constitutionality of Section 6A under which the current NRC has been prepared. 

Termination of Citizenship: The Citizenship Act (1955) prescribes three ways of losing citizenship whether acquired under the Act or prior to it under the Constitution,

  • Renunciation
  • Termination
  • Deprivation

Renunciation of Citizenship:

  • Any Indian citizen of full age and capacity may file a declaration renouncing his Indian citizenship.
  • That person loses his or her Indian citizenship once the declaration is registered.
  • However, if such a declaration is made during a war in which India is involved, the Central Government will refuse to register it.
  • Furthermore, when a person renounces his Indian citizenship, his or her minor children lose their Indian citizenship as well.
  • When such a child reaches the age of eighteen, he may reclaim his Indian citizenship.

Termination of Citizenship:

  • When an Indian citizen acquires the citizenship of another country voluntarily (consciously, knowingly, and without duress, undue influence, or compulsion), his Indian citizenship automatically terminates.
  • This provision, however, does not apply while India is engaged in a war.
  • If a question arises as to whether, when, or how a person obtained the citizenship of another country, it is to be resolved by such authority and in such manner as the rules may prescribe.

Deprivation of Citizenship:

  • Deprivation is the compulsory termination of Indian citizenship.
  • In some situations, the Indian government can strip a person of his citizenship. However, this does not apply to all citizens.
  • It is a compulsory termination of Indian citizenship by the Central government if:
  • the citizen obtained citizenship through fraud.
  • the citizen demonstrated disloyalty to the Indian Constitution
  • the citizen unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war.
  • the citizen was imprisoned in any country for two years within five years after registration or naturalisation.
  • the citizen was ordinarily resident outside of India.
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