Dual Citizenship (OCI Card)

Despite all the news coverage and excitement over this issue, please understand clearly that the Constitution of India does NOT allow dual citizenship, i.e., holding Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country simultaneously.

Government of India decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) which most people mistakenly refer as 'dual citizenship'. Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs)of certain category 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.

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. India will grant dual citizenship to persons of Indian origin (PIOs) belonging to certain countries,and Indian citizens who may apply for the citizenship of these countries in the future.

What is dual citizenship?

Citizenship is generally defined based on some common factors. You will be deemed a citizen of a country for one or more of the following reasons:

* "Right of the Soil" - if you were born in the territory (within the borders) of that country
* "Right of Blood" - If one or both of your parents are citizens of that country.
* By Marriage - If you are married to a person who is a citizen of that country (this is no longer an automatic process - you still need to apply for citizenship)
* Naturalization - If you obtained citizenship of the country by going through the legal process of naturalization

As there are various ways to acquire citizenship of a country, it is possible for someone to be considered a citizen under the laws of two or more countries at the same time.This is dual citizenship.

Who is eligible for dual citizenship?

The Indian Parliament passed a Bill to grant dual citizenship to the people of Indian origin on December 22, 2003. The Bill received the President's approval on January 7, 2004. This Citizenship (Amendment) Bill - 2003, will simplify the procedure to grant Indian citizenship to former Indian citizens of full age and their children. The Bill will help grant dual citizenship to PIOs belonging to or obtaining citizenship (in the future) of the following 16 countries:

1. United States of America
2. United Kingdom
3. Australia
4. Canada
5. Cyprus
6. Finland
7. France
8. Greece
9. Ireland
10. Israel
11. Italy
12. Netherlands
13. New Zealand
14. Portugal
15. Sweden
16. Switzerland
   Remember: The rules, regulations and requirements are still under process and will be updated as and when decisions are made by the Indian Government. The Central Government may register a person as a citizen of India if:

* that person is of Indian origin, of full age and capacity and a citizen of one of the specified countries
* OR that person was a citizen of India immediately before becoming a citizen of a specified country and is registered as an overseas citizen of India  by the Central Government

What is the procedure to apply for dual citizenship?

The application of registration as an overseas citizen of India has to be made in a prescribed form. This form, when completed, should be submitted in triplicate;

* i) In India : to the Collector within whose jurisdiction the applicant is ordinarily resident. This form will be sent to the Central Government through the State Government or Union   Territory Administration, as the case may be.
* ii) Elsewhere : This form will then be sent to the Central Government.

Please note that the specific regulations and requirements are still being decided.

What is the fee for application for registration as an OCI?

US $ 275 or equivalent in local currency for each applicant. In case of PIO card holder, US $ 25 or equivalent in local currency for each applicant.

What is the time taken for registration as OCI?

Within 30 days of the application, if there is no adverse information available against the applicant. If any adverse information is available against the applicant, the decision to grant or otherwise is taken within 120 days.

If the registration as an OCI is not granted, what amount will be refunded?

An amount of US $ 250 or equivalent in local currency shall be refunded, if registration is refused. US $ 25 is the processing fees plus $ 25 our charges, which is non-refundable.                 

The detailed rules, application forms and other necessary information in connection with the grant of overseas citizenship will be available very shortly.

What are the benefits of dual citizenship?

Once you are accepted and registered as an Indian citizen, you will receive the following benefits:
* A registration certificate to prove your dual status
* Overseas citizen passport in addition to the passport of the country of which you are already a citizen
* You will no longer need to apply for a visa to travel to India. However, you must carry and present both passports at the time of travel.
* You will not have to go through any registration formalities for staying in the country.
* You will no longer have to provide separate documentation for admission to any college/institution or for employment.
* You will be treated the same as a non-resident Indian with respect to the facilities available to the latter in the economic, financial and educational field.
* Your children will be eligible for facilities as available to children of NRIs for obtaining admission to educational institutions in India, including medical colleges, engineering colleges, institute of technology, institute of management etc. under the general category
* You can make the most of facilities under the various housing schemes of LIC, State Govt. and other government agencies

What rights are not available to you if you hold dual citizenship?

If you qualify for and are accepted to hold dual citizenship in India, you will still not have certain rights:
* You cannot be employed in the public sector or public services
* You will not have the right to vote in Indian elections

OCI Card service charge: $100

 to  NRI Corner for more details and requirements.