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Home > Know Your Rights > Rights of NRIs in India
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Q1.  Who are NRIs?

A1.  NRIs are the Non- Resident Indians. They are the people of Indian origin who are settled in foreign countries. They are also referred as People of Indian Origin (PIO) or Overseas Citizens of India (OCI). They are Indians who have acquired the citizenship of a different country.


Q2.  This means that they are both citizens of India as well as the foreign country where they reside. Are they permitted to have dual citizenship?

A2.  No, the Constitution of India does not allow dual citizenship, except for minors who acquired the citizenship of another country involuntarily. NRIs are people of Indian origin, but citizens of country in which they reside.  India recognizes them as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) or People of Indian Origin(PIO), but not as its full-fledged citizens.


Q3.  What is meant by Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)?

A3.  Overseas Citizenship of India is a status granted by the Indian Government to any person of Indian origin who is from a country which allows dual citizenship in some form or the other. An Overseas Citizen of India enjoys all rights and privileges available to Non-Resident Indians on a parity basis excluding the right to invest in agriculture and plantation properties or hold public office.  They are given an Overseas Citizen of India Card which entitles them to visit India at any time for any length of time and for any purpose. However, they still require to carry the passport of the country where they reside.


Q4.  How is it different from actual citizenship of India?

A4.  The OCI is very different from the actual citizenship of India. The OCI cardholders do not have Voting rights, Right to acquire agricultural and plantation property in India. However, same can be inherited by them. They cannot be a member of Parliament, cannot contest elections and cannot hold Constitutional posts like President, CJI, Governer etc. They do have a lifelong visa-free travel to India, but they are not issued any Indian Passport. Also, Overseas Citizens of India are not eligible for an inner line permit, and they have to apply for a protected area permit if they want to visit certain areas in India.


Q5.  What are the benefits of acquiring the Overseas Citizenship of India?

A5.  Overseas Citizens of India get a life-long visa-free travel to India. Also, they are exempted from registration with the police for any length of stay in India. Multinational companies find it simpler to hirethe OCI cardholders, who enjoy a multiple entry, multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, sparing them the need to obtain separate work permits.  OCI cardholders can travel at very short notice and take up assignments in India, while others could get caught up in bureaucratic delays over their employment visa.


Q6.  What is a Person of Indian origin (PIO) card?

A6.  A PIO Card is issued to Indians currently holding a non-Indian passport, who can prove their Indian origin up to three generations before. Citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other countries as may be specified by the central government are not eligible for grant of PIO Card. It is valid for a period of fifteen years from the date of issue.


Q7.  What are the benefits of a PIO Card?

A7.  A PIO card holder will have the following benefits:

  • Exemption from registration at a Foreigners' Regional Registration Office (FRRO) for periods of stay less than 180 days.
  • Enjoy parity with non-resident Indians in economic, financial and educational fields.
  • Acquire, hold, transfer, or dispose of immovable properties in India, except for agricultural properties.
  • Open rupee bank accounts, lend in rupees to Indian residents, and make investments in India etc.
  • Being eligible for various housing schemes under the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) or the central or state governments.
  • Their children can obtain admission in educational institutions in India in the general category quota for non-resident Indians.


Q8.  What are the limitations on the rights of a PIO Card holder in India?

A8.  Possession of a PIO card will not entitle the holder to:

  • Being eligible for the exercise of any political rights.
  • Visit restricted or protected areas without permission.
  • Undertake mountaineering, research, and missionary work without permission.
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