Dual Citizenship, a unique form of Multiple Citizenship may be defined as enjoying dual nationality, where a person can have voting rights of two nations simultaneously in case the law of those countries allow one to do so.
Does India allow Dual Citizenship?
The nationality and citizenship law of India along with the country's Constitution does not allow Dual Citizenship. Hence, no Indian citizen can hold the citizenship of any other country. However, the country's permission on POI (Person of Indian Origin) and OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) are mistakenly referred as India Dual Citizenship.
Which kinds of citizenships are recognized by India?
As per the Constitutional law of India, the country recognizes the following kinds of citizenship over and above Overseas Citizenship of India and Person of Indian Origin mentioned earlier:
- Citizenship by birth
- Citizenship by descent
- Citizenship by naturalization
- Citizenship during the origin of the Indian Constitution
What is Person of Indian Origin?
Someone is recognized as Person of Indian Origin by the nationality law of India if that person, in spite of holding a passport of any foreign country, can prove his or her origin in India up to three earlier generations. The same criterion is considered for the spouses of the Indian nationals. However, the country does not recognize citizens of Bangladesh, Pakistan and some other specified countries as Person of Indian Origin.
What are the advantages of holding the status of Person of Indian Origin?
A national, recognized as Person of Indian Origin, is provided with a Person of Indian Origin Card. Besides being valid for 15 years, the card offers the below mentioned benefits to its holder:
- While their stay in India for less than one hundred and eighty days, registration at FRRO (Foreigners' Regional Registration Office) is exempted.
- Except for properties related to agriculture, a PIO card holder can acquire, transfer, dispose of or hold immovable possessions in India.
- Enjoy equality with non-residential Indians in educational, economic and financial aspects.
- Able to invest in Indian investment companies, provide rupees to residents of India, open money bank accounts etc.
- Children of a PIO card holder are eligible to get admission in any Indian educational institution in the quota of general group.
- Such a card holder automatically becomes eligible for the different housing schemes offered by the state or central governments or LIC (Life Insurance Corporation of India).
Are there any disadvantages of holding a Person of Indian Origin Card?
Though as compared to the advantages, disadvantages are very less but still there are some shortcomings of holding a Person of Indian Origin Card. Those drawbacks include:
- Not being able to exercise political rights of India.
- Not being able to research or indulge him or her in any missionary work or mountaineering without prior permission.
- Cannot visit protected or restricted areas without proper permission.
What is Overseas Citizenship of India?
People belonging to some categories of Person of Indian Origin, who obtained citizenship of foreign countries other than Bangladesh and Pakistan post their migration from the country of India, are eligible to apply for Overseas Citizenship of India. This can, however, be granted if the local laws of their residing countries allow any form of dual citizenship. Overseas Citizenship of India cannot be regarded as a form of dual citizenship since; it does not grant full citizenship of the nation.
What are the eligibility criteria to obtain Overseas Citizenship of India?
The main criterion of acquiring Overseas Citizenship of India is that a person, besides being a "Person of Indian Origin", has to be a national of another foreign country, which allows double nationality. The Central Government of India grants Overseas Citizenship of India to a person post fulfilling the following criteria:
- Belonged to an area that got included in India post Indian Independence on 15th August, 1947.
- Was an Indian citizen on or after 26th January, 1950.
- Is the grandchild or child of a person fulfilling the above criteria.
- Was never a national of Bangladesh or Pakistan.
What are the advantages of gaining Overseas Citizenship of India?
A person granted India's Overseas Citizenship is provided with a registration certificate, which offers the following benefits to that certificate holder:
- Multi-purpose visa for visiting India with the facilities of multiple entry and life long validity.
- Except acquiring plantation or agricultural properties, enjoying equal status with NRIs in terms of education, finance and economy.
- The Police authority of India exempts an OCI certificate holder from informing them for staying in India.
Are there any restrictions on Overseas Citizenship of India certificate?
In spite of the above mentioned benefits, the Overseas Citizenship of India certificate has got some shortcomings, which are as follows:
- The OCI certificate holder is not eligible for getting Indian passport.
- They cannot take active participation in Rajya Sabha, Lok sabha, Legislative Council or Assembly or in the offices of President, Vice-President, High Court' Judge and Supreme Court's Judge.
- An Indian Overseas Citizen does not enjoy any voting rights.
- Such a certificate holder is not eligible for Public or Government services.
- This certificate does not allow a person to visit protected areas of India without prior permission.
Which one is better - Person of Indian Origin or Overseas Citizenship of India?
The comparison between the above mentioned benefits of the so called India Dual Citizenship like Person of Indian Origin and Overseas Citizenship of India makes it clear that Overseas Citizenship of India is much better than a Person of Indian Origin. Though to be an Overseas Citizenship of India, one has to be a Person of Indian Origin, still a Person of Indian Origin card remains valid for 15 years, whereas, an Overseas Citizenship certificate holder can enjoy a life long visa for traveling to the country of India. A PCI card holder needs to report to Police for more than 180 days' stay in India at a stretch whereas, an OCI certificate holder is exempted from doing so for any duration of his or her stay in India. However, both of these cards are proposed to be merged and named as Overseas Indian Card as declared by Mr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India during the starting of the year 2011.
Last Updated on 09/09/2011