If you clicked on this blog because you also went like… OMG! Is there such a thing as an Indian Dual Citizenship! Wait till you hear about what we have to say. This will surely blow your mind.
Let’s get on with the basics
Citizenship is the legal status of a person belonging to a particular country recognized by the laws of that nation. A citizen is entitled to certain rights and has obligations, as mentioned in the country's constitution. Yep, responsibilities. In India, a passport is a document that is issued by the Ministry of External Affairs to its citizens, and enables citizens to travel internationally. Pretty basic, we know. It also serves as proof of citizenship. All passport-holders are citizens of that country, but all citizens don't need to have a passport. Now we’re talking!
The website of the Indian Embassy has clarified that the Constitution of India does not allow holding Indian Citizenship and Citizenship of a foreign country simultaneously. The Government of India has decided to register Persons of Indian Origin of specific categories specified in Section 7A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 as Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Cardholders. This is a form of a lifelong visa that comes with a few other privileges like multiple entries, lifelong multipurpose visits to India, exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of their stay in India, and parity with NRIs in financial, economic, and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural and plantation properties.
Well, what are dual or multiple citizenships?
Dual or multiple citizenship signifies that the person is a citizen of more than one country. This gives the person rights and benefits and the opportunity to live, study, and work. People having dual or multiple citizenship also enjoy other benefits like healthcare, education, social security, etc.
One of the significant advantages of multiple or dual citizenships is holding various passports. This advantage makes global movement easier as you travel visa-free to all the countries with these passports.
To address your curious soul: Can Indians get dual citizenship?
No. The Indian Constitution does not have a provision for dual or multiple citizenships. If an Indian citizen acquires citizenship from another country, they automatically lose their Indian citizenship. As mentioned in the Passport Act, 1967, all Indian Passport holders must surrender their passports to their nearest Indian Mission or post immediately after acquiring citizenship from another country. But, Indian citizens can also get Overseas Citizens of Indian (OCI) status after gaining citizenship.
Okay, so what is the OCI status, and how does it work?
The Indian government issues a document called OCI card to all people who have been given this status. OCI is a legal status given to an Indian origin who has given up their Indian citizenship. It is pretty similar to a permanent residency and offers several benefits.
How do I apply for an OCI card?
All applicants applying for an OCI card need to fill out the online application form on the Ministry of External Affairs website. Some of the required documents for the OCI card application are:
- Original passport
- Foreign passport valid for at least six months
- Copy of Naturalization if born outside of the U.S.
- A recent passport photo was taken within the last six months
- If married, a copy of the marriage certificate
- Copy of address proof
- State issued ID card
- Copy of current utility bill
- Copy of valid/current lease agreement signed by landlord and tenant both
OCIs come with their own perks!
A person with an OCI card enjoys various benefits and privileges like:
- Multiple entry lifelong visa to India
- Live, work, and do business in India indefinitely
- Own assets and properties in India
- Apply for Indian citizenship again after surrendering foreign citizenship, but this is subject to certain conditions
But, there are some drawbacks too…
The OCI status comes with its own set of drawbacks, which are:
- Since you are not a citizen, you can't vote
- You cannot run for a public office or appear in an election
- You cannot buy agricultural or plantation land in India. But you can continue to hold such property you had before giving up Indian citizenship and also inherit it
In short, Indian citizens cannot have multiple citizenship or passports. But, with the OCI status, they can enjoy the benefits that an Indian citizen is entitled to.