Citizenship and Permanent Residence in India

Information on how to become a citizen or permanent resident of India…

Citizenship of India can be acquired by birth, descent, registration and naturalisation.

Indian citizenship by registration can be obtained when the applicant is of Indian origin, or to be married to, or have parents who are, citizens of India.

  • For information from the Ministry of Home Affairs on requirements for citizenship by registration: Click here (PDF in English)

A foreigner can acquire citizenship of India by naturalisation. Applicants must have:

  • Lived in India for 11 of the last 14 years prior to application.
  • Lived continuously in India for a period of 12 months immediately prior to date of application.

For details from the Ministry of Home Affairs of the application procedure: Click here (PDF in English)

Permanent Residency

There are two options for permanent residency.

  • OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) Card
  • PIO (Persons of Indian Origin)

OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) Card

The OCI affords many of the rights of an Indian citizen. As India does not permit dual citizenship, this card is for those who may have given up their Indian citizenship but want to retain links to the country.

It essentially provides a lifelong visa allowing multiple entry to India for any purpose. Those in possession of an OCI card are exempt from registering their stay in India. An OCI card holder can apply for Indian citizenship provided they have been registered as OCI for at least five years, and have lived in India for one of the five years prior to application.

This card is specifically for citizens of another country (excluding Pakistan and Bangladesh) who were either eligible to become a citizen of India on 26 January 1950 or have been a citizen on, or at any time after, 26 January 1950. Those who belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15 August 1947 also qualify. The children and grandchildren of those mentioned are also eligible. An applicant for OCI must be a citizen of a country that permits dual citizenship.

  • Full information about the OCI card is available on the Indian Government Ministry of Home Affairs web page. An application can be made online: Click here

PIO (Persons of Indian Origin)

This is for all those of Indian origin who are holders of a passport of another country. Exclusions to this are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Sri Lanka.

The PIO card is valid for 15 years and allows holders to enter India without a visa including for studies and employment. Registration at the Foreign Registration Office (FRO) is not required for single periods of stay under 180 days.

Eligibility for a PIO card is for those who have at any time held an Indian passport or who have parents, grandparents, or great grandparents who were born, or have been a permanent resident, in India. Eligibility also extends to those who are married to a person of Indian origin as outlined above or married to a citizen of India.

Details of how to apply for a PIO can be found on the Indian Embassy website of the applicant’s country of residence.