NRI Real Estate and Property Investment in India
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Indian Government Reluctant to Extend Parity with NRIs to OCIs
Monday, June 18, 2007

The Government has expressed its reservations to put Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) at par with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), based on the objections raised by several ministries. Concerned ministries have sounded the government on security issues that could crop up if certain rights were given to people of Indian origin holding foreign passports.

The proposal by the Minister of Overseas Internal Affairs (MOIA) seeks to bring the current number of 1.12 lakh OCIs on the same platform as regards investment, employment and other economic privileges, except the right to franchise.

The home ministry has expressed its disapproval to allow OCIs the exposure to investment in the financial sector, particularly in the realm of Defence, civil aviation, nuclear energy and other sensitive areas, and has advocated a thorough scrutiny of such investments by regulatory authorities.

The Home Ministry seeks to draw a clear line between NRIs and OCIs who are, officially, foreign nationals. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also given a conditional approval for OCIs in the medical profession who are eager to start a practice in India.

These professionals would have to undergo a screening test, and register with the medical council concerned in order to be able to practice in the country. The Ministry has also demanded an annual visit to the Foreignersí Regional Registration Office to renew the permission to work in India.

The Department of Economic Affairs has rejected the OCI-NRI parity on the grounds that acquisition and transfer of property in India is determined by FEMA , which does not recognise residents of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal and Bhutan as people of Indian origin (PIO).

The PIOs of these countries are already covered by the OCI scheme. The Revenue Department is also reluctant to extend tax benefits and sops available to NRIs under the Wealth Tax and Income tax laws to OCIs.

Presently, OCIs enjoy multiple-entry lifelong visas for India and freedom from registration at the Foreigner's Regional Registration Office during their stay in India.

Related Reading

NRIs do not Qualify for OCI Status
8 Lakh PIOs Get Overseas Citizen Status
NRIs Returning India


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