The OCI (of the spouse of an Indian) for dummies
After ten years of adventures visa-related, the time to end this story of annual meetings, endless trips, rule changes, frustration, had finally come. In short, I completed in August two years of marriage, which gave me the right to apply to become an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), some kind of lifelong visa allowing me to live and work in India. Lifelong if you please! Well, at least as long as my marriage stands. Because it is the fact that I am married to an Indian person that gave (earned??!) me the right to this illustrious honor.
To put it simply, after two years of marriage, I could finally apply for an OCI. You know me, I was well ready on the D-Day – i.e. the day of my anniversary. But I had to wait till I had a few hours free in my calendar to go to the Foreign Registration Office in Delhi six days later. With the following papers (mentioned in this document / more information on the official website, where we also need to apply and upload documents):
- My passport (with my current visa and my registration to the FRRO) / also to be uploaded on the site
- My husband's passport / also to be uploaded on the site
- Our marriage certificate / also to be uploaded on the site
- A photo of myself and one of my signature / also to be uploaded on the site
- Our lease (not mentioned, but just in case, and it proved required)
- An 'indemnity bond' certified by a notary with a 100-rupee stamp (also not mentioned but I had often heard about it, so just in case, and by the way they kept it) / see an example of this document here
- A DD (Demand Draft) of 15,000 rupees to be drawn at 'Pay and Accounts Officer (Secretariat), Ministry of Home Affairs' payable at New Delhi
- The print-out of the form we have to fill up online
I will not spend time on how the office made fun of me when he checked my marriage date and my filing date – ‘you are not wasting time’! I’m not THAT eager to get the OCI, you see, it’s not the Holy Grail or anything, but I have heard that it takes more than three months and my visa expires in five and frankly if I could avoid going back to the Gurgaon FRRO...
When he was done laughing, he, in all seriousness, informed be about a (not so) funny rule: one must have lived for more than eight months in a city to apply (not six or twelve, no, eight). Obviously, this is mentioned nowhere on the site and obviously, I am far from it, having three months to complete. 24 months that I have been waiting and this jocker comes up with this crazy rule! I could cry. Maybe that’s why, seeing my face – or maybe I got a bit upset and yelling and shouting, I can’t remember – the officer accepted my file not without warning me “if it is rejected it won't be my fault”.
I then had to upload the passport of my husband under the ‘Proof of Indian Citizenship’. And finally I leave with a file number in my pocket!
But it would have been too easy wouldn’t it?
Two weeks later I get an email asking me to resubmit my marriage certificate. And when I comply, they explain to me that the words ‘marriage certificate registered under Special Marriage Act, 1954’ are missing on my certificate made in Mumbai. And then, the fun part begins.
a. We go to the Marriage Court of Gurgaon to register our marriage again. It’s illegal.
b. We try to find an agent who could get our certificate modified in Mumbai. The Bandra court replies that it is the standard certificate there and they won't change it. But maybe we can have them sign an affidavit. Except that the guy who married us has just be transferred and his replacement is on leave. And on that the agent stops picking up the phone.
c. We are still left with the option to re-register our marriage by getting married again, as per lawyers’ advice. But not in Gurgaon because the system has changed and one can no longer corrupt them. No, we would have to go to Ghaziabad and go take pictures at the temple and pay 15 000 rupees. I would do it for the experience you can imagine, except that it seemed a little too crazy... And I could really picture the scene where my marriage would be registered in 2016 and not in 2014 and I would have to wait another two years to apply (even though I was assured that antedating the document would not be a problem).
d. In despair, I thought I would send my favorite Indian plead our case in Mumbai.
e. And then finally, after three months of efforts and stress, I gave up. They can go to hell with their OCI...
Two days later, I'm not lying, I received a message stating that my application was approved and I had to send a new DD (the former having expired). I could not believe it. But the next day an officer showed up at my place – a normal procedure where they check that I live here where I say I live. And three days later I was officially an (Overseas) Indian Citizen!