I am writing this because there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there about the applying process. I am hoping that this entry will make your journey painless and less anxious than mine.
If you are reading this, you already know what the OCI is and you are looking to apply for the same. Perhaps there are different routes (preconditions) thro’ which one can apply for OCI. Here is mine:
- Naturalised British citizen
- Hold a British passport
- Secured a passport surrender certificate
With the above at hand, here is what you need to do:
Step 1: Fill Part A of the application form here. You will need to take a print out of this; if you do not have immediate access to a printer, don’t fret, you will be able to print the same at a later stage. To do so, go here enter the required details; and click the print button; the details that you entered earlier will be displayed and you can print from there. When you print, ensure you are using IE (I used IE 8) – the print layout seem to change when I used chrome & firefox. Make note of the registration number on your application form (starts with GBR… ) – you will need this for all future correspondance.
Step 2: Fill Part B of the application form. This is nothing but the missing bits on the print out from Step 1. It is a fairly straight forward application form, there was little or no room for confusion.
Step 3: Additional documents required for applying for the OCI
- Photocopy of your British passport. If your passport was issued recently, this will just be the page on which you find your details.
- Photocopy of your Naturalisation certificate.
- Photocopy of Surrender Certificate of Indian Passport
- Photocopies of all non-blank pages of your cancelled / revoked Indian Passport(s).
Note: You will only need one copy of each of the above. You will need to self attest - sign, print your name and date it; all the above mentioned photocopies. Ensure that you take color photocopies – I do not think they accept photocopies in blank & white.
Step 4: The application requires your most recent photograph. Ensure that you have the photograph that meets the required standards. At the time of my application, they needed a photograph that was 51 mm x 51 mm. I got them from Snappy Snaps near to where I work; the moment I mentioned the purpose, they knew exactly what I (or should I say the HCI) needed.
Step 5: Depending on how you choose to submit your application, you will need 175 GBP in Postal Order or in Cash (they do not accepts other methods of payment).
With the above completed and ready; you are good to submit your application. You can submit the application to the High Commission of India (HCI) by two methods – by post or in person. Given the ambiguity of information that was available, I choose to go with the latter.
*NOTE:* HCI seem to have updated their requirements / procedure for OCI applications (effective 02-Apr-13). Here is the changes that I noted form when I made the application:
- They now require your original Surrender certificate (along with a self attested photocopy of the same). They will return the original by post. You are encouraged to include a special delivery envelope failing which they promise to return your original document by ordinary post.
- If you don’t happen to have your passport for any reason (lost / submitted to UK home office when you were naturalised) you will need to submit notarised affidavit in original and also a police report in case you lost your passport when it was valid.
- Issue of tokens for submitting the application starts at 0830 (for first 100 tokens) and 1030 (for final 75 tokens). If I go by experience, I would read that as “Max number of tokens for submitting the OCI application on a given day is 175 and tokens are issued at 0830 on a first come first served basis.”
- Opening times for counter for submitting the OCI application is: 0930 – 1300.
Submitting the application
Depending on where you live, you will need to apply with the CGI / HCI near to you. You can use this post as a guide to ‘where to apply‘. I applied with the HCI in London - Aldwych, London WC2B 2NA. At the HCI, you will note that they follow their time tested process to any service – you will need to collect a token upon arrival, do your time – wait for your turn, and be seen by a member of staff. For OCI submission, the HCI start issuing tokens at 1230 (that’s the time the HCI website says). I arrived at 1245, the token number I received meant I had to wait until 68 people were seen before my turn. Depending on what interests you, and how you want to keep yourself engaged at that time of the day; I would suggest you take carry a book / ipod / something to keep you occupied. It took about 3 hours before my number was called. The submission itself took less than 45 seconds. I had carried all the original documents for which I was submitting a photocopy; however, they did not ask to see the originals in my case. Once you submit the application, you will be able to track its progress here using your file number / registration number and your passport number.
For me, submitting it inperson was going to be reassuring that the documents that I was presenting was indeed what the HCI required. There was no way of knowing that for certain unless I went there. Having done it, I now believe applying by post could have saved that 3 hours spent at the HCI. Having done this once, if I will be applying for another family member in the future, I would do so by post.
Postal applications are just as straight forward; with all the required documents; one would need to get a crossed postal order for 175 GBP in favour of “High Commission of India, London” and write the online registration number (what you get from Step 1 above) on the reverse of the postal order and send it to “OCI Section, High Commission of India, Aldwych, London WC2B 2NA”.
- High Commission of India – OCI page
- Ministry of Home Affairs – OCI page
- OCI Online registration page
- OCI Status Enquiry
What I observed at the HCI:
- Most people who had gone over to submit their application were not sure about what required to be submitted.
- There were a number of them who did not have the needed documents. Perhaps, they had not done the required research before making the application.
- Many had brought along standard passport size photographs – their applications were not accepted.
- Carrying the originals would be helpful. They might not need them; but, they have a right to ask for them.
- There were a few submitting applications as proxies – the applications they carried were not accepted; unless, it was of a family members’ application and they were able to prove so.
- People who did not carry 175 GBP in cash had to run to the nearest cash machine.
- If one had all the required documents; the only not-so-good bit will be the wait time, otherwise it’s a painless process.