Disadvantages of OCI Visa for UK Citizen

#1 Jun 17th, 2011, 18:36
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  • Maverick2000uk is offline
#1
Hello there,

I am trying to establish the advantages and disadvantages of holding an OCI visa as a UK Citizen.

Both my parents were born in India and, since th epassin gof my father this year, I have now inherited both a village home and farm land in Gujarat.

My questions around this are quite specific:
1. If I do NOT hold an OCI visa, do I lose rights over the farm land I have inherited since I understand there are strict regulations about non-Indian Citizens owning farmland?

2. If I DO hold an OCI visa, are Indian officials allowed access to my financial and property holdings both in UK as well as India?

3. Is the SOLE purpose of an OCI visa to prevent having to pay money for 6 month visa's everytime I travel to India or will it actually be an advanage when dealing with my inherited property and land?

4. Is there actually an OCI advice centre in London that I can visit in order to get this and other questions answered?

Thank you.

Maverick2000uk
#2 Jun 17th, 2011, 18:52
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  • prince09 is offline
#2
1. As an OCI, you are NOT allowed/entitled to buy/own farm/agricultural land in India.

2. Indian property and financials - Yes; UK - Not sure.

3. Advantage in employment, education, property(except farm land) and travel related issues.

4. Not sure; Try Indian consulate in london and Consulate/Ministry of external affairs website.
#3 Jun 17th, 2011, 22:44
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  • nycank is offline
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick2000uk View Post My questions around this are quite specific:
1. If I do NOT hold an OCI visa, do I lose rights over the farm land I have inherited since I understand there are strict regulations about non-Indian Citizens owning farmland?
From the mha.nic.in site

Quote:
(iii) Parity with Non
resident Indians (NRIs)
in respect of economic,
financial and educational
fields except in relation
to acquisition of
agricultural or plantation
properties

The operand word is "acquisition" whatever the legal meaning is in this situation. Unless you plan to go back and till the land and give up the UK citizenship, your only option is sell it.
#4 Jun 18th, 2011, 09:04
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#4
There appears to a lack of clarity about OCI "acquiring" agricultural land.

I know that an OCI cannot "purchase" agricultural land.

I thought I read somewhere that an OCI can inherit agricultural land (there must be some legal paper work for this), but, if and when the OCI wants to sell the agricultural land, it can only be sold to an Indian Citizen (and there must be some other requirements).

One would have to find all of the relevant "official" notifications and hire a lawyer familiar with OCI/PIO?GOI rules in India.

It all depends what you intend to do with the agricultural land in the future.

Cheers

Nattusbs
#5 Jun 18th, 2011, 14:23
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  • Nick-H is online now
#5
My theory, too, is that it can be inherited by a NRI, if not by a pio or foreigner. The FEMA FAQs do not seem to state this, though.
#6 Jun 19th, 2011, 04:16
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  • Rob B is offline
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post My theory, too, is that it can be inherited by a NRI, if not by a pio or foreigner. The FEMA FAQs do not seem to state this, though.
"Q.2. Can NRI/PIO acquire agricultural land/ plantation property / farm house in India?

Ans. No."

That seems an unequivocal prohibition, with no stipulation as to how the property may be acquired.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycank View Post The operand word is "acquisition" whatever the legal meaning is in this situation. Unless you plan to go back and till the land and give up the UK citizenship, your only option is sell it.
How can selling it be an option, if it cannot be acquired? What happens to the inheritance if the heir is prohibited from taking possession?

There is no doubt that any non-resident (whatever their connections with India) can sell such property; but it seems they could lawfully have acquired it only while resident in India.

"Q.13. Can a non-resident owning / holding an agricultural land / a plantation property / a farm house in India sell the said property?

Ans. (a) NRI / PIO may sell agricultural land /plantation property/farm house to a person resident in India who is a citizen of India.

(b) Foreign national of non-Indian origin resident outside India would need prior approval of the Reserve Bank to sell agricultural land/plantation property/ farm house in India."

The interesting point, returning to the original question is that OCI status in this context makes no difference. The crucial criterion is residence in India, and the prohibition on acquisition of property applies to non-resident Indian citizens (NRIs) and foreigners (whether or not they are of Indian origin) alike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick2000uk View Post 2. If I DO hold an OCI visa, are Indian officials allowed access to my financial and property holdings both in UK as well as India?
I wouldn't have thought so, particularly if you are not resident in India. The UK tax authorities might be interested in any holdings in India, particularly since the clamp-down on non-domicile tax avoidance. In any event, subject to any international agreements, access to such information depends on the laws of the country where the holdings are located.
#7 Jun 19th, 2011, 13:02
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  • professorm is offline
#7
The site immihelp.com provides all the relevant information about OCI.

Inheriting ag. land is not a problem with an OCI status, however, you cannot buy ag. land.

Sell your inherited land ASAP, otherwise you will lose it due to rampant land fraud. Feel free to send me a PM if you have additional questions.
Last edited by professorm; Jun 19th, 2011 at 23:50..
#8 Jun 21st, 2011, 01:32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob B View Post How can selling it be an option, if it cannot be acquired? What happens to the inheritance if the heir is prohibited from taking possession?

There is no doubt that any non-resident (whatever their connections with India) can sell such property; but it seems they could lawfully have acquired it only while resident in India.
People who have inherited (by will due to death) agricultural land in Punjab have been able to legally sell their share without any problem.
#9 Jun 22nd, 2011, 16:37
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#9
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Originally Posted by nycank View Post People who have inherited (by will due to death) agricultural land in Punjab have been able to legally sell their share without any problem.
That is also my understanding, but the position is not clear from a reading of the FAQs.

I think possibly there is some linguistic confusion. Perhaps the word "acquire" is used in the sense of taking active steps to secure the acquisition of a property. Acquisition through inheritance is ultimately a passive process (assuming of course that the heir does not seek to expedite things, in which case a whole different legal procedure comes into play).
#10 Jun 22nd, 2011, 17:05
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#10
well, they are but FAQs, I suppose.

I have seen a book on FEMA --- it was several inches thick! I hope my interest never has to go that far
#11 Jun 23rd, 2011, 09:02
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Because there is a relatively high % of Punjs in UK,Canada and Punjab being a agricultural, there would have been many instances of such issues. I just happen to know one personally, sorry Punjab has no LEXUS/NEXUS
#12 Jun 23rd, 2011, 11:18
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#12
So far no problem owning and selling inherited agricultural land! I sold my inherited land a couple years ago, no questions asked. I know many who have bought agricultural land in addition to inherited land. This is quite rampant in Punjab.

Is it legal? It appears to be a grey area and it may stay this way till some legal precedents are set.

Bottom line, avoid owning real estate in India, sell it if you own it.
#13 Jun 23rd, 2011, 14:23
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#13
Quote:
avoid owning real estate in India, sell it if you own it.
This seems to be your main message to the world

Yes, the potential problems are many --- but many millions have problem-free ownership of property.
#14 Jun 24th, 2011, 00:48
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#14
Nick ---

My message is directed at folks who live abroad.

Indeed, folks who live in India, especially those who manage the land they own, ownership of real estate is not a problem. I recognize millions of farmers own their land. They farm it and they make their living off the land, no problem.

Passive ownership is subject to fraud. Perpetrators of fraud have figured out ways to file phony paperwork and establish ownership.
#15 Jun 24th, 2011, 01:17
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#15
ok... I do recognise that fraud is rife. I also find it hard to think of families that I know that have not had some kind of property dispute within the family.

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