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Non-Resident Indians (NRIs)

About the Ministry

The Indian Diaspora constitutes a significant economic, social and cultural force in the world. Overseas Indians estimated at over twenty million are spread across 110 countries. Their industry, enterprise, economic strength, education and professional skills are widely recognised. The bond which holds this vast and diverse overseas Indian community together with India is Indian ness. The creation of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) acknowledges the fact that the welfare of Overseas Indians needs mainstream attention. The mission of the Ministry is to promote, nurture and sustain a mutually beneficial and symbiotic relationship between India and its diaspora.

The heterogeneous Indian diaspora spread across eight major regions of the world is a product of different waves of migration over hundreds of years and have distinct expectations from the home country. In facilitating the process of engagement the Ministry seeks to provide for this wide range of roles and expectations. The ministry also recognizes that the various States are important players in our Union of States. Equally, they are central to sustainable and mutually beneficial engagement between India and its diaspora. It must be recognized that any initiative that Overseas Indians, individually or collectively, take must be anchored in one of the States. The States are therefore encouraged to develop a stake in the entire process of engagement with the diaspora and become natural stakeholder partners.

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs is a young ministry. Initially established in May 2004 as the Ministry of Non-Resident Indian Affairs it was renamed as Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) in September 2004. The emigration division of the Ministry of Labour and Employment was attached to the new Ministry in December 2004. The NRI division of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) provides support to the MOIA and now functions as the Diaspora division in the Ministry. The Ministry is headed by a cabinet minister and is organized into four functional service divisions: Diaspora Services, Financial Services, Employment Services, and Social Services. A small team of eleven officers (Deputy Secretary and above) is working in the Ministry in a delayer and multi-task mode.

The Protector General of Emigrants administers the Emigration Act, 1983. He oversees the eight field offices of the protectors of emigrants located at Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram.


Who is an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)?

A foreign national, who was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26.01.1950 or was a citizen of India on or at any time after 26.01.1950 or belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947 and his/her children and grand children, is eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). Minor children of such person are also eligible for OCI. However, if the applicant had ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh he/she will not be eligible for OCI.

Who is a Non Resident Indian?

Section 2 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) deals with various definitions. It defines a person resident in India and a person resident outside India. However, it does not define the term non-resident nor it does define the term Non Resident Indian (NRI).

However, Notification No. 5/2000-RB (dealing with various kinds of Bank Accounts) defines the term Non Resident Indian (NRI) to mean a person resident outside India who is either a citizen of India or is a person of Indian origin. In short, the definition of the term NRI is contextual and can have slightly different connotations for FEMA/Income Tax/Acquisition of Immovable Property etc.

Who is a person resident in India?

Under the FEMA, a person resident in India means a person residing in India for more than 182 days during the course of the preceding financial year and who has come to or stays in India either for taking up employment, carrying on business or vocation in India or for any other purpose, that would indicate his intention to stay in India for an uncertain period. In other words, to be treated as a person resident in India under FEMA a person has not only to satisfy the condition of the period of stay (being more than 182 days during the course of the preceding financial year) but has to comply with the condition of purpose/ intention of stay.(For details see FEMA, 1999).

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This site was updated on 18th September 2018
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