Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status can be obtained by individuals with foreign citizenship, but who have a family link to India. Children of Indian citizens living abroad can use this, for example, as a lifelong visa to visit and stay in India whenever they want.
Below are my unordered notes from the experience of applying for OCI for our 1-year old toddler:
For the online application process use the OCI Services website and follow the instructions there. You will need to fill out an online application, print it and supporting documents, fill and notarize them and send it to your nearest consulate through an intermediary chosen by the consulate.
General instructions for filling the online application were: type everything in UPPERCASE. For minors (<18 years) who cannot sign, use left thumb impression in signature box. The thumb impression should be within the box and no parent signature is needed.
The application process needs 2 printed passport photos and its digital copy to upload online. The photo requirements are: square photo of size between 200x200 to 1500x1500 pixels. Max image size is 500 KB. Background should be non-white light colored.
For our toddler, instead of signature, left thumb print was needed. Again, the process requires both actual thumbprints on several paper documents (see below) and a scan for uploading online. For online upload the requirements are: aspect ratio 1:3 of size between 200x67 and 1500x500 pixels.
We needed to submit several supporting document scans, with the size of each document not exceeding 1 MB. We had to do submit lower resolution supporting documents sometimes to get under this filesize limit.
The online application was straightforward to fill except for this field:
Relation With the Root Indian for which the answer is
* -- Father.
The online application has 2 parts: part A and part B. The above supporting documents and information was for part A. Finishing part A gives you a digital copy of your filled out application and 2 IDs which you must save carefully: temporary application ID and file reference number. You will use these IDs to come back to this online application and will also be used by the consulate’s intermediary later.
After this step we need to print out that digital application, get notarized photocopies of all supporting documents, 2 passport photos of applicant - this forms our application package. Our Consulate General of India (San Francisco) had outsourced the application process to VFS Global services. They had a clear checklist of documents that are needed (especially for minor) and those have to followed carefully for a successful application.
Note that the printed out application needed our child’s thumbprint in 2 places, be prepared for that. Our 1-year old would smudge every thumbprint, so we took it while she was asleep.
The VFS site takes your payment (~$340 for us) and generates a Fedex shipping label. Take your application package (don’t forget the printed checklist too) and ship it off and wait. During this process, the website had generated a bad link, the right link is this, in case you face the same problem.
After we sent the Fedex, VFS notified us when they received it and when they sent it off to the consulate. After this there was a full 2 months of radio silence and then suddenly VFS sent a Fedex tracker ID and we received the OCI booklet by Fedex!