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Monday, June 04, 2007

Getting OCI card in India

As India announced Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) policy just before we left the US in 2006, we decided not to apply for it in the US (as we thought it might delay our relocation) but do it in India itself.

Confidence that we had gained from applying for our green cards and the citizenship, we decided to use the web as much as we can to obtain the information to do it by ourselves. We downloaded the application, got all the required documents ready, took the demand draft (DD for 275 US dollars or equivalent currency) as said on the web site and there it went. To our surprise, it came back in the same speed that it went. There are two things that were mentioned in our letter. One was our demand draft was above the required amount. We only did what the site asked us to do and that was we took the DD for the 275 US dollars equivalent amount in Indian rupees on that particular day of exchange rate. In fact when we called and asked them to retain the over subscribed amount (by the way it was only by few rupees), they refused. DD also needs to be addressed to some appropriate authority in New Delhi which was not mentioned on the web site.

We did all that was required and there it went again. Well…..you guessed it….it came back much faster this time than the last time. This time they asked us to do two things. They required us to enclose our children’s adoption decrees (they could have done it last time itself) and also to send it to the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi directly than to sending it to the nearest OCI office which was contrary to what was mentioned on the web site.

Grudgingly, we did all that was asked and sent it to New Delhi. Well….you guessed it wrong this time….it never came back nor the acknowledgement that we had enclosed. After a long time it did. We were supposed to have gotten our OCI in 30 days as per the web site. We began to check our status online but it never appeared. So we decided to call them to see what’s happening. Well….a well mannered gentleman Mr. Sharma spoke and said that our OCI cards are ready and we can go and pick them up. When asked about the online status….reply came “Short staff”.

We planned to go to New Delhi as it was processed there. When we called around for flight tickets (Train might take about a week just to go and come) but we realized that it almost costs us an arm and a leg. We decided to do something we never thought any government employee will oblige. Spoke to Mr. Sharma and told our difficulty of traveling to New Delhi and asked him to transfer our OCI cards to the nearest OCI office for processing. Well…..he was so nice and understanding, he immediately agreed and also gave our OCI card numbers over the phone to us.

After a week, we called our regional office and they said that it had come. So we went and there again we met another gentleman who finished our work in about 15 minutes. We couldn’t believe it.

After all this trouble, what the heck is OCI anyway and what do we get out of this? Well….here it is. If I am right in my understanding, it is not a dual citizenship but recognition of your origin to India. This enables you to travel to India without any visa from the country of your choice at anytime for the rest of your life. It also enables you not to register with the nearest police station if you choose to live for longer than six months in one streth. I can tell you that this registration stuff in the police station can be a pain in the wrong place. Above all, OCI holders are almost considered as Indian citizens except for voting rights and holding any elected office.

Now, if you have an adoptive child from India, I strongly recommend that you get this in the country of your choice. Chances of your child coming to India often and staying for an extended period of time may be remote but it has something that nothing so far has enabled. It provides something tangible to claim that he/ she belong to this country. When they arrive in India, they will no longer stand in the foreigner’s line but Indians. They no longer need to feel that this country had abandoned them but welcomes them with open arms.

After all, this experience had taught us that India with all its difficulties, at the end of the day, still belongs to us and they made us know that. THANK YOU India.

RN
http://indiadoption.blogspot.com

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