Can a NRI apply for Dual Citizenship ?
People in India, very often confuse between holding dual citizenship with Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) introduced by the the Govt of India. Majority of Indians who are Permanent Resents of other countries like ( Australia.Canada,New Zealand,USA & Singapore ) think that if they apply for a foreign passport, they can still continue holding INDIAN PASSPORT…..[dt_highlight color=”” text_color=”” bg_color=””] Constitution of India does NOT allow dual citizenship, i.e., holding Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country or two passports simultaneously.[/dt_highlight]
Government of India decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) which most people mistakenly refer as ‘dual citizenship’. Persons of Indian Origin or NRI’s who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible for grant of OCI as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or the other under their local laws.
Here are the facts :
* The Indian constitution does not allow or recognize “dual citizenship”.
* The Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) scheme does not get you “dual citizenship”.
* The Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) scheme does not give you “Indian passport”.
Automatic loss of Indian citizenship covered in Section 9(1) of theCitizenship act 1955, provides that any citizen of India who by naturalization or registration acquires the citizenship of another country shall cease to be a citizen of India.” This means you have to give up Indian passport and citizenship to the nearest Indian embassy, should you become citizen of foreign country. A seal is affixed at the back of passport mentioning it is a punishable offence under Indian Passports Act of 1957, of any possession of Indian passport, should the passport holder acquires nationality of another country..
Overseas Citizens of India (OCI)
The Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) scheme was introduced by Indian Govt in 2005, to encourage Indians who have gained citizenships abroad in terms of easing travel restrictions and aid the economic development of India. This scheme is just like “Permanent Residence” or “Green Card “given in India.
If you are already a NRI and have taken up citizenship abroad, you can take up benefits of OCI scheme, which gives you same travel and residence privileges like other Indians, but you are not allowed to vote and take up jobs in Government sector. You will also be free from reporting requirements to police regarding the length of your stay. . With that being said, you are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship if you have acquired OCI for 5 years and you have legally resided in India atleast for a year.
The passport document issued for overseas citizens, may look similar like Indian passport but it is very different from Indian passport.
Why OCI status is NOT same as DUAL CITIZENSHIP
If you get OCI, it is NOT same as being regular Indian citizen:
- You do not get Indian passport.
- No voting rights.
- Can not be candidate for Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha/Legislative Assembly/Council
- Can not hold constitutional posts such as President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court/High Court etc.
- Cannot normally hold employment in the Government.
As OCI, you get following benefits:
- Multiple entry, multi-purpose life long visa to visit India;
- Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India; and
- Parity with NRIs in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of
agricultural or plantation properties.
Any further benefits to OCIs will be notified by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA)
under section 7B(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
A person registered as OCI is eligible to apply by the Ministry of citizenship under section 5(1)(g)
of the Citizenship Act, 1955 if he/she is registered as OCI for five years and has been residing
in India for one year out of the five years before making the application. However, such person
would have to renounce foreign citizenship.
OCI scheme is being operational from Dec 2, 2005. It has been decided that formal launching
of scheme will be done by Prime Minister at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on Jan 7, 2006 at Hyderabad
by symbolically handing over the first OCI certificate to a person of Indian origin.
It is anticipated that a large number of Indian Diaspora will be benefited by this scheme for
a hassle free travel to their motherland. They will bring economic value and benefits to
Indian economy and contribute to the development process.