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Can Indians hold dual citizenship? Here are the details.

dual citizenship

Dual nationality can be obtained automatically through the operation of different laws, rather than being a deliberate choice. For instance, a child born to U.S. citizen parents in a foreign country may hold both U.S. nationality.

Alternatively, an individual who possesses one nationality at birth may later choose to naturalize in another country and thereby acquire dual nationality.

In the case of India, the Constitution does not permit the simultaneous holding of Indian citizenship and the citizenship of a foreign country.

However, registered OCI individuals are entitled to the following privileges:

Exemption from reporting to police authorities regardless of the duration of their stay in India.
Parity with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in financial, economic, and educational aspects, except for the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.(dual citizenship)

In the case of acquiring a new passport, the guidelines for obtaining a new OCI are as follows:

OCI cardholders up to the age of 20 years are required to have their OCI card re-issued each time they acquire a new passport.
OCI cardholders who have completed 50 years of age are required to have their OCI card re-issued once upon acquiring a new passport.
Re-issuance of the OCI card is not necessary each time a passport is issued to a cardholder between 21 and 50 years of age.(dual citizenship)

Please ensure the following documents are presented during the collection of the OCI card:

  • Foreign Passport
  • Cancelled Indian Passport
  • PIO card (if the application is based on the PIO card)
  • Original Receipt of payment of fees
  • Print-out of the online enquiry status

Can a person registered as an OCI obtain Indian citizenship?

Yes, an individual registered as an OCI can apply for Indian citizenship if they have been registered as an OCI for a minimum of 5 years and have resided in India for at least 1 year out of those 5 years. However, upon receiving Indian dual citizenship, they are required to surrender any other citizenship they may hold. 

What are the advantages of having an OCI compared to being a PIO cardholder?

OCI Advantages:

Lifetime visa with free travel to India.
Exemption from registration with the local Police authority for any duration of stay in India.

PIO Cardholder Limitations:

PIO card validity is limited to 15 years.
Mandatory registration with the local Police authority for stays exceeding 180 days during any single visit to India.
PIO cardholders do not have the specific right to become an Indian citizen, unlike OCI cardholders.

The Citizenship Act of 1955 was amended in August 2005 to introduce the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme. This Scheme allows for the registration of individuals as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) who are of Indian origin and were citizens of India on or after January 26th, 1950, or were eligible to become citizens of India on or after January 26th, 1950. However, individuals who are or have been citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, or any other country specified by the Central Government through notification in the Official Gazette are not eligible for OCI registration.

India has maintained its stance against dual citizenship, although certain politicians have expressed support for it, sparking speculation that the regulations may eventually be altered. However, as a current concession, the OCI scheme has been introduced to address some aspects related to dual citizenship.

Historically, the prohibition of dual citizenship in India stemmed from the belief that citizenship symbolizes an allegiance to the nation. Considering the notion that one cannot fully pledge loyalty to two countries simultaneously, the concept of dual citizenship was not endorsed.

Effective January 9, 2015, the PIO card scheme ceased to exist and was integrated with the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card scheme. Consequently, individuals holding PIO Cards are required to obtain machine-readable OCI cards instead of the previously issued handwritten PIO Cards. Until December 31, 2021, valid PIO Cards, along with a foreign passport, will be accepted by Indian Immigration Authorities for entry and exit to and from India.


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