Dual Citizenship

No, the Indian constitution and existing laws do not allow dual citizenship. The latter, as the name so aptly describes, is a condition wherein an individual is considered the citizen of two countries. Such an individual will enjoy all the rights and privileges as enjoyed by any bonafide citizen of either countries. The individual will have passports from both nations and can travel, purchase property, reside for extended duration of time and enjoy other such basic and special privileges accorded to any natural born citizen of the country. A prime example of a country that allows dual citizenship is the United States of America (USA).

In India however, dual citizenship is not allowed. Commonly, people are likely to mistake Government sponsored initiatives such as Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and the erstwhile Person of Indian Origin (PIO) programs as encouragement to the concept of dual citizenship or dual nationality. However, this is not the case. According to the Constitution of India/ Part II/ Article 5, an individual is considered a citizen of India if,

  1. He/she was born in the territory of India.
  2. Either of his/her parents was born in the territory of India.
  3. He/she is living continuously within the territory of India for a minimum duration of 5 years.

Further, Constitution of India/ Part II/ Article 9, states that any individual who voluntarily seeks citizenship of a foreign state, thereby negating the points laid out in Article 5 (aforementioned), Article 6 (Citizenship rights of certain individuals who have migrated to India from Pakistan) and Article 8 (Citizenship rights of certain individuals of Indian origin who are residing outside India), will cease to be considered a citizen of India. He/she will assume the citizenship/nationality of the foreign state wherein he/she has raised the request for citizenship. He/she will have to surrender his/her Indian passport and other documents establishing Indian citizenship at the nearest Indian embassy. As per the directive laid out in the Indian Passports Act of 1957, it is a punishable offence to retain an Indian passport after acquiring a foreign nationality.

OCI cards

OCI cards are awarded to foreign nationals a) who were eligible for Indian citizenship as on 26 th January 1950, b) who became Indian citizens at any time after 26 th January 1950, and c) who were citizens of a territory that seceded into India after 15 th August 1947. Any minor children of the above mentioned individuals can also apply for OCI cards. Citizens from Bangladesh and Pakistan are not eligible for OCI cards.

There are several benefits associated with OCI cards which put the cardholders on the same footing as Indian citizens in a variety of fields. Major among them are:

  • Lifelong visa-free entry into India and unlimited duration of stay.
  • Police reporting not needed when in India.
  • Same benefits as NRIs in terms of investments, property transactions, education and housing schemes from government.

A difference here is that OCI cardholders cannot buy properties meant for agricultural or plantation purposes. Also, OCI cardholders are barred from holding public office, voting in elections and working for the government.

Termination/Renunciation of Indian citizenship

To opt for any other country’s citizenship, an Indian citizen has to either terminate or renounce his Indian citizenship. Termination of Indian citizenship occurs if the person (both adults and minors) has acquired a foreign nationality through registration or naturalization. The Indian passport has to be surrendered as holding both Indian and a foreign passport is an offence as per Indian laws.

Citizens may also renounce Indian citizenship and in doing so will lose the Indian citizenship of any minor children. Only adults can renounce their citizenship while minor children will be given the option to restore Indian citizenship when they turn 18.

Citizenship and passport related FAQs

What are the different types of Indian Citizens, and who are eligible to apply for passports?

There are three types of citizens of India through broad classification, as under:

  • Indian Citizen by Birth: This means that you are an Indian citizen because you were born within the country of India.
  • Indian Citizen by Descent: This means that you are an Indian citizen because one, or both, of your parents held Indian citizenship at the time of your birth outside the country of India.
  • Indian Citizen by Registration or Naturalization: This means that you are an Indian citizen after registering for citizenship, and /or being granted citizenship by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

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