A client of mine asked me if they would become dual citizens if they obtained ‘Overseas Citizen of India’ (OCI). Although the word ‘Citizen’ is included in the name, the OCI holder does not become a citizen of India. OCI could be likened to becoming a permanent resident of the United States. There is no eligibility to vote or be elected to public office, nor is there eligibility to be employed by the Government of India or hold an Indian passport. A US ‘green card’ holder can buy agricultural land, but an OCI holder cannot acquire agricultural land in India, unless they inherit the land.
At all times, an OCI holder remains a citizen of the country of their current citizenship. So a US citizen applying for an OCI does not hold dual citizenship; rather, she or he holds a permanent visa to India, with the ability to enter and exit India at anytime. The OCI holder does not have to register with the local police authorities to stay in India past six months. The OCI is a booklet that is carried in addition to your passport; the passport is stamped with a U visa that is a permanent visa. At this time, India does not recognize dual citizenship.
To be eligible for an OCI, the applicant must be eligible to become an Indian citizen on January 26, 1950 or later, was never a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, or is a child or grandchild of an Indian citizen.
The applicant must renounce Indian citizenship. If Indian citizenship was renounced before June 1, 2010, then the surrender fee is $20.00; $175.00 for renunciation of Indian citizenship past June 1, 2010.
A surrender certificate is required to obtain consular services at the Indian consulate, after receiving OCI, if you obtained non Indian citizenship after May 31st, 2010. If you were not an Indian national before that date, then you do not require renunciation certificate. Contrary to popular myth, you do not need a renunciation certificate to enter India. You need your OCI card, and your passport with your permanent visa ‘U’ visa to India.
A surrender certificate is issued when you surrender an Indian passport to obtain an OCI card. A renunciation certificate is issued when the Indian passport is lost and only Indian citizenship is renounced, no passport surrendered.
Hope this clears up my client’s doubts.
See you in my next blog.
Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA
Attorney at Law
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
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