Why OCI may be the Next Best Thing to Citizenship for Indians

India does not allow dual citizenship, but Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status offers a form of permanent residency with many of the benefits of Indian citizenship.

Second Citizenship and OCI

We have experienced a sharp rise in demand for second citizenship among our Indian clients over the past few years. While many wish to relocate to long-popular destinations like the UK, Canada & Australia, a new trend has been quietly emerging.

Indians have started to obtain citizenship of less well-known places like Grenada in the West Indies. Places they have never visited and sometimes never even heard of before.

Why are they doing this? Well Grenada has lots to offer in its own right – a stable economy, beautiful beaches, and cricket, to name just a few. But one of the primary motivating factors is the fact that it offers Indians access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows a person to move to the United States with their family for the purposes of investing in and running a business. Unlike the popular H-1B Visa, there are no limits or quotas, and it is not subjected to the same fast changing political whims.

The E-2 Treaty is governed by treaties with sovereign states, which outlast one particular president or another. But it is precisely because it is governed treaties that India is not eligible. India does not have a relevant treaty with the United States.

Therefore, to become eligible the E-2 visa, Indians need to first obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. The E-2 Treaty countries with the quickest and most cost-effective pathways to citizenship are Grenada and Turkey. Grenada has typically been more popular with our Indian clients.

What is OCI?

The only reticence we see with Indian clients pursuing the Grenada + E-2 route surrounds the issue of citizenship.

While Grenada allows dual citizenship, India does not. So, our clients are faced with the prospect of giving up their Indian citizenship for citizenship of a much smaller country a long way from home.

While for some, this is entirely worthwhile. They see the strength of the Grenada passport worldwide (it is one of the few countries to have visa free access to China, as well as the European Schengen area, and the U.K. – not to mention its access to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa).

But for others, the decision can be more daunting.

That is where OCI or Overseas Citizenship of India comes in. Anyone faced with the prospect of giving up their Indian citizenship can apply for OCI status and have many of the same rights as full citizens.

The principle differences between OCI and full citizenship are that Overseas Citizens of India are not eligible to vote, are not eligible to hold public office, and are not eligible to acquire agricultural land.

In most other aspects Overseas Citizens of India are treated much the same as Non Resident Indians (NRIs), Indian citizens who reside outside of India for at least 182 days per year.

The OCI is essentially a life-long, multiple-entry visa to visit or live in India for any purpose including work. It is essentially a form of permanent residency.

Some benefits of OCI
  • No need to report presence in India to the authorities
  • Same rights as Non Resident Indians except not able to acquire agricultural land
  • Additional permission required for work in fields of journalism, research, missionary and mountaineering
  • Same rights as Indian citizens to domestic air fares and to the admission price for national parks
  • Same rights as Non Resident Indians to work in registered progressions, e.g. doctors, dentists, nurses, advocates, architects, and chartered accountants.

And it is not only people who surrender their Indian nationality that are eligible for OCI status. Anyone with an Indian parent, grandparent or great grandparent is eligible. This makes the OCI program very popular in countries with large Indian diaspora communities like the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

Restrictions on OCI
  • Cannot vote
  • Cannot run for political office
  • Cannot obtain government jobs
  • Cannot acquire agricultural land

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Citizenship of Grenada can be obtained within an average of less than three months for an investment in real estate starting from $220,000 or a donation to a public fund from $150,000. The Turkish program requires an investment in real estate starting from $250,000 or deposits in a Turkish bank of $500,000 or more.

What is the E-2 Visa?

The E-2 visa allows a person to move to the U.S. with their family to actively invest in and run a business. The required investment should be suitable for the business, usually starting from $100,000, and this should be reflected in a credible business plan. Spouses can apply for work authorization outside the business and the family is free to travel to and from the United States.

It is possible to invest in a franchise business, or set up a business from scratch. It is important that the business is structured in a way that complies with all immigration regulations. We advise E-2 applicants to engage not just our immigration lawyers, but also our corporate lawyers. Both teams work closely together to maximize the chances of a successful application and subsequent renewals.

Reversing the Process: Becoming a Citizen Again

The decision to surrender Indian citizenship is rarely taken lightly. OCI offers many of the same benefits, and for people whose minds or circumstances have changed, there is a route to re-obtaining Indian citizenship.

A person who is registered as an OCI for 5 years is eligible to apply for Indian Citizenship if they have been living in India for one of those five years.

This is, nevertheless, an immensely important decision. We recommend that you speak with our attorneys so you are fully apprised of OCI, citizenship by investment, and where applicable, the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Please contact us to discuss your personal circumstances.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

Cyprus Ends Citizenship Program – What are the Alternatives?

Cyprus has announced it is closing its popular citizenship by investment program from next month, so what alternative options are available?

Under the Cyprus program, dual citizenship could be obtained within just six months in exchange for a €2 million investment on the island. Since Cyprus is a European Union member, Cypriot citizenship offered the opportunity to live and work in any one of the 27 EU member states (28 until Brexit).

Maltese Citizenship by Investment

The closure of the Cyprus program leaves Malta as the fastest route to European Union citizenship. The Maltese citizenship program requires a €650,000 donation, a €150,000 investment, as well as a commitment to reside in Malta and meet a threshold cost for the rent or purchase of a home.

EU Residency to Citizenship

The alternative European Union programs are more focused on residency by investment with the opportunity to progress to citizenship after a period of residency has been maintained. Bulgaria offers a fast transition from residency to citizenship, while the UK differs depending upon how much you invest, and for Italy it takes ten years. (More on this below)

Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program

There is a candidate for European Union membership that offers citizenship by investment for those willing to wait an undetermined period of time to become and EU citizen. Montenegro offers a time-limited citizenship by investment program that is running to the end of 2021. The Montenegro program requires a minimum €250,000 investment in Real Estate (more capital is required in economically developed parts of the country) as well as a €100,000 donation to the public coffers. Not only is Montenegro a candidate for EU membership, it is also a member of NATO.

Turkish Citizenship by Investment

Another nearby NATO member, Turkey, also offers an enticing citizenship by investment program. The Turkish program is cheaper than the Montenegro program in that it only requires a €250,000 investment in Real Estate to be maintained for three years or more. Alternatively, Turkish citizenship could be obtained by maintaining €500,000 in deposits with a Turkish bank for three years.

Access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

One of the many advantages of Turkish citizenship is that it offers access to the sought-after United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. This visa allows a person to move to the US with their families for the purpose of running a business. While the primary applicant must run the business, the spouse can apply to work in the United States.

You must hold citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. Check our list to see if your country is on there. Citizens of many countries, including India, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Russia, Nigeria are not eligible for the E-2 visa. Combining an E-2 application with citizenship by investment is relatively straightforward. Click here or contact us to learn more.

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Another country that offers access to the US E-2 Treaty investor visa is Grenada in the Caribbean. Its citizenship program is even more cost effective than the Turkish program. Investors can choose between making a donation to the government of $150,000 or making an investment in Real Estate starting from $220,000. The Grenada program has fast processing times – it can take less than two months to obtain citizenship. Grenada has a strong passport with visa free access to the UK, the EU and the People’s Republic of China.

Comparison of Citizenship by Investment Programs

United Kingdom Residency by Investment

Back to Europe, and the alternative options are to obtain residency by investment as a pathway to citizenship over the medium term. The United Kingdom, for example, offers residency in exchange for a minimum £2 million donation. Higher investment amounts reduce the amount of time before you can obtain settled status, termed indefinite leave to remain. For £2 million the time period is five years; for £5 million that is reduced to three years; and for anything upward of £10 million it requires just two years before you can apply for settled status. Twelve months after obtaining indefinitely leave to remain, a person can apply for UK citizenship.

UK Investor Visa Options

Italian Residency by Investment

Italy offers something similar to the United Kingdom. Recently, in response to Covid-19, the Italian government reduced the investment requirement for its investor visa. Italian residency by investment can be obtained in one of the four ways listed below. The investor must maintain ten years of residency before they can apply to naturalize as an Italian citizen.

at least 250.000 Euros in an innovative start-up company incorporated in Italy; 

at least 500.000 Euros in equity instruments of companies incorporated and operating in Italy; 

at least 2 million Euros in Government Bonds issued by the Italian Republic

philanthropic donations of at least 1 million Euros, in the field of culture, education, immigration, scientific research, recovery of cultural assets and landscapes

Portugal Residency Permit

Portugal offers a residency permit in exchange for an eligible investment. The permit is granted for a two year period, but can be renewed in two year instalments. After five years, the permit holder can apply for permanent residence or citizenship.

Investment options include, real estate, bank deposits, government bonds, setting up a company, and more. For real estate, the minimum requirement is €350,000 for old houses and €500,000 for newer builds. That amount is reduced in areas of low population density.

Greece Residency Permit

Greece offers residency permits for a cost-effective €250,000 investment in real estate. The permit is granted for five years and can be continuously renewed provided the underlying property ownership is maintained. Lease and timeshare options may also qualify.

United States Investor Visa

The United States EB-5 program offers a Green Card in exchange for a $900,000 investment. The applicant, a spouse, and any children under the age of 21 can be covered by a single investment. A Green Card offers permanent residency in the United States and can subsequently be converted to citizenship, provided residency conditions are met.

The investment must create and sustain ten American jobs and must be made in a Targeted Employment Area (outside of these areas the investment required doubles to $1.8 million.) While you can make and manage the investment yourself, most applicants opt invest with “Regional Centers”.

These organizations aggregate investors into new commercial ventures usually involved in construction. These job-hungry projects help ensure compliance with the requirements of the EB-5 program. While the capital is at risk, careful due diligence of the project and Regional Center will mitigate that risk.


This is not an exhaustive list. Other countries like Spain, Ireland, St Kitts & Nevis, and Dominica all offer residency and citizenship by investment programs. The abrupt departure of the Cyprus from the industry does not end the dream of global mobility by investment. The best thing to do is to share your goals and budgets with an immigration attorney who can advise on the best option to suit you, your family, and your business.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.