India Dual Citizenship


Despite all the news coverage and excitement over this issue, please understand clearly that the Constitution of India does NOT allow dual citizenship, i.e., holding Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country simultaneously.

Government of India decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) which most people mistakenly refer as 'dual citizenship'. Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) of certain category who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible for grant of OCI as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or the other under their local laws.

If you get OCI, it is NOT same as being regular Indian citizen:
  • You do not get Indian passport.

  • No voting rights.

  • Can not be candidate for Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha/Legislative Assembly/Council

  • Can not hold constitutional posts such as President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court/High Court etc.

  • Cannot normally hold employment in the Government.

As OCI, you get following benefits:
  • Multiple entry, multi-purpose life long visa to visit India;

  • Exemption from reporting to Police authorities for any length of stay in India; and

  • Parity with NRIs in financial, economic and educational fields except in the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
Any further benefits to OCIs will be notified by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) under section 7B(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

A person registered as OCI is eligible to apply by the Ministry of citizenship under section 5(1)(g) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 if he/she is registered as OCI for five years and has been residing in India for one year out of the five years before making the application. However, such person would have to renounce foreign citizenship.

OCI scheme is being operational from Dec 2, 2005. It has been decided that formal launching of scheme will be done by Prime Minister at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on Jan 7, 2006 at Hyderabad by symbolically handing over the first OCI certificate to a person of Indian origin.

It is anticipated that a large number of Indian Diaspora will be benefited by this scheme for a hassle free travel to their motherland. They will bring economic value and benefits to Indian economy and contribute to the development process.

PIO vs. OCI
Compared to PIO card, OCI offers following benefits:
  • OCI is entitled to life long visa free travel to India whereas for PIO cardholder, it is for 15 years.

  • PIO cardholder is required to register with local Police authority for stay exceeding 180 days in India on any single visit whereas OCI is exempted from registration with Police authority for any length of stay in India.