OCI card becomes compulsory for investment in India

RAJESH H DHRUVA RIMA K JOSHI Wednesday 13th March 2019 02:44 EDT

Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origin (PIOs) residing abroad did not require any additional documents other than copies of their passport, business or permanent residency visas; etc for purchase or sale of properties or investing in businesses in India. But since 7th November 2017, Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) has made it compulsory for PIOs to hold an OCI card (Overseas Citizen of India) to actively participate in business by way of partnership firm; proprietorship firm or limited liability partnership and also for passive investments under portfolio investment schemes on repatriation basis. From March 2018, if a PIO wishes to purchase a property or sell or transfer by way of gift or exchange even a pre-owned existing immovable property, OCI card is compulsory.

Salient features of these rules:

Immovable properties: Since 26th March 2018 OCI card has become necessary for a PIO for purchase, sale or transfer of immovable property. As such every PIO who wishes to purchase, sale or transfer any immovable property after 26th March 2018 will be required to be a OCI cardholder. PIOs who are owning property prior to 26th March 2018 will also need to avail OCI Card for sale, gift or transfer even an existing property on or after 26th March 2018.

Active businesses & PIS: Likewise PIOs are also required to be OCI card holder for actively participating in businesses as a partner in partnership firm or limited liability partnership or a proprietorship firm. OCI card will also be required for portfolio investments in listed securities of Indian companies on non repatriation basis.

OCI card is not required for: Direct investments in securities of Indian private limited companies, direct investments in shares & debentures of non-listed public limited company or PIS of listed Indian stocks on repatriation basis. OCI card is also not required for opening & maintaining non resident external (NRE), non resident ordinary (NRO) Rupee bank accounts, opening & maintaining US$, GBP, Euro, CAD, AUD & JYEN foreign currency non resident (FCNR) deposits, investments in Indian government securities and investments in Indian mutual funds. If the PIOs are already conducting business of proprietorship firm, partnership firm, LLP or has a PIS on non repatriation basis prior to incorporation of these regulations, such PIO will have to obtain OCI card for continuing business.

Eligibility: A PIO is eligible for OCI card if he was an Indian citizen on 26th January 1950 or any time thereafter, born in India after 26th January 1950 and before 1st July 1987; born after 1st July 1987 but before 3rd December 2004 provided either of his parents was a citizen of India at the time of birth; born in India after 3rd December 2004 and both his parents were Indian citizens or one of the parents is a legal Indian citizen and other is a legal migrant, any one of the parents or grandparents or great grandparents have been citizen of India and spouse of Indian citizen or OCI card holder.

Application: Application is to be made together with supporting documents at ttps://ociservices.gov.in with supporting documents - proof of citizenship, copy of passport; certificate of citizenship; copy of birth certificate; address proof, proof of parents, grandparents or great grandparents being Indian citizen or OCI card holder and marriage certificate if available in case of spouse. Originals are to be presented at Indian Embassy in the country of residence or Regional Passport Office or Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) in India with payment of fees of Rs 15,000 by banker's cheque.

Benefits: Lifelong visas with facility of multiple entries, no requirements of registration with FRRO or police authorities, no approvals required for conduct of any business or profession or taking up employment or making any permissible investment. OCI card holder under the age of 20 years and above the age of 50 years are required to have a fresh or a new OCI card every time they seek re-issuance of their passport. NRIs who are between the age 20 years and 50 years are not required to have a fresh OCI if they get the passport renewed.

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