Article

Overseas Citizens of India
June 07 , 2012

On January 9, 2003, the then Prime Minister Mr. Atal B. Vajpayee announced, in response to tremendous pressure by Persons of Indian Origin, that citizens of certain countries would be given dual citizenship.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2003 was introduced by the government in May 2003 and was passed by parliament on December 22, 2003.

The Act defines 'overseas citizen of India' as a person who

1. Is of Indian origin; or

2. Was a citizen of India immediately before becoming a citizen of a specified country and is registered as an overseas citizen of India, by the Central Government.

An overseas citizen:

1. Will not be entitled to the rights conferred on a citizen of India;

2. Will not have the rights of equality of opportunity in matters of public appointment;

3.  Will not be entitled to hold constitutional offices.

Section 14A of the act states that the Central Government may compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue the national identity card; and the Government may maintain the National Register of Indian citizen and for that purpose establish a National Registration Authority.

The Central Government, on an application made, may register any person as an overseas citizen of India, if:

1. That person is of Indian origin; is of full age and capacity, and is a citizen of a specified country.

2. That a person is of full age and capacity who has obtained the citizenship of a specified country on or after the commencement of Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003, and who was a citizen of India immediately before such commencement;

3. The person registered as an overseas citizen of India shall be an overseas citizen of India, as from the date on which he is so registered.

No person who has been deprived of his Indian citizenship under this Act shall be registered as an overseas citizen of

India, except by order of the Central Government. For this purpose, the expression 'citizen of India' shall mean a citizen of another country who:

1. Was eligible to become a citizen of India at the time of commencement of the constitution;

2. Belonged to a territory that become part of India after 15th August, 1947; and

3. The children and the grandchildren of a person covered under clauses (1) and (2); but do not include a person who is or had been at any time a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify.

Dual citizenship has been extended to people of Indian origin so long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or other; under their local laws. However, citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh are not eligible to be overseas citizens of India.

No person who has been deprived of his Indian citizenship will be registered as an overseas citizen of India except by an order of the Government.

The Citizenship (Third Amendment) Rules, 2004, was notified in August 2004. It states among other things that the fee for registration in US $ 275. Of the fee payable for registration, US $ 25 will be non refundable; while the rest will be returned in case the application is turned down.

An overseas Indian citizen would not need:

1. To register for stay in India even if the stay exceeds 180days;

2. Separate documentation for admission in colleges/institutions or for employment.

The overseas citizen will enjoy parity with NRIs with regard to facilities in the economic, financial and educational fields.

The overseas citizen will enjoy all the rights of an Indian citizen except those mentioned earlier. He will not require a visa while visiting India and can buy property and enjoy equality with Non-Residents Indians in economic, financial and educational fields; besides having an overseas Indian passport. OCIs cannot purchase agricultural land in India.

It should be noted that overseas citizenship is not a full citizenship of India, and therefore does not amount to dual citizenship or dual nationality.

Certificate of Registration has been awarded from January 2006, onwards.

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