India Dual Citizenship

Citizenship in India is primarily based on jus sanguinis, that is, citizenship by the right of blood.

India does not allow dual citizenship, with the exception of minors who have a second nationality involuntarily (e.g. by birth). This means that a person cannot have a second country's passport and an Indian passport at the same time. However, India offers what is known as an overseas citizenship program which provides some benefits to those of Indian origin, although it is not technically a citizenship.

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Indian Dual Citizenship

How can you acquire Indian citizenship?

Citizenship By City-of-birth

CITIZENSHIP BY BIRTH

Those born in India on or after January 26, 1950 but before July 1, 1987 are citizens by birth. Those that are born in India after July 1, 1987 are also citizens if at least one parent was a citizen at the time of birth. Those born after December 3, 2004 are citizens only if both parents are citizens or if one parent is a citizen and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of birth.

 
Citizenship By Descent

CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT

Those born outside India between January 26, 1950 and December 10, 1992 are citizens by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of birth.

Those born outside India on or after December 10, 1992 are citizens by descent if either parent is a citizen of India at the time of birth.

For those born on or after December 3, 2004, those born outside India are not citizens unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within a year of the birth. The registration application requires a writing from the parents that the child does not hold the passport of another country.

Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)

Although dual citizenship is not allowed by India, India offers the opportunity for persons of Indian origin to apply for the Overseas Citizenship of India ("OCI"), which is not a full-fledged citizenship, but which does provide a lifetime Indian visa for its holders. You are eligible for OCI if you are of Indian origin and from a country which allows dual citizenship, such as the U.S. Children of those eligible for OCI are not automatically eligible for OCI. Generally, you are of Indian origin (commonly referred to as a Person of Indian Origin ("PIO")) if you:

were an Indian citizen on January 26, 1950 or any time thereafter, OR belonged to a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947, OR are the child or grandchild or someone falling under the 2 categories listed above, AND were never a citizen of Bangladesh or Pakistan.

If you are eligible for and obtain OCI, you enjoy all of the rights and privileges available to non-resident Indians except for the right to invest in agriculture and plantation properties and hold public office. When traveling to India, you must carry your U.S. passport which would include the 'U' visa, a multi-purpose, multiple-entry, lifelong visa. This visa permits the OCI holder to visit India at any time for any purpose for any length of time.

OCI holders are not allowed the following:

  • the right to vote
  • the right to hold the offices of President, Vice-President, Judge of Supreme Court and High Court, Member of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Legislative Assembly or Council
  • appointment to Public Services (Government Service)
  • an inner line permit, an official travel document issued by the government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected or restricted area for a limited length of time
  • OCI holders also have to apply for a protected area permit if they want to visit certain areas of India.

Persons of Indian Origin Card (PIO)

The PIO (Persons of Indian origin) card is issued to those holding U.S. passports, who can prove their Indian origin up to three generations before, or spouses of Indian citizens/persons of Indian origin.

The PIO card is valid for fifteen years and provides the following benefits:

  • exemption from registration at a Foreigners' Regional Registration Office (FRRO) for periods of stay less than 180 days,
  • enjoy parity with non-resident Indians in economic, financial and educational fields,
  • acquire, hold, transfer, or dispose of immovable properties in India, except for agricultural properties,
  • open rupee bank accounts, lend in rupees to Indian residents, and make investments in India etc.,
  • being eligible for various housing schemes under the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) or the central or State governments,
  • their children can obtain admission in educational institutions in India in the general category quota for non-resident Indians.

PIO card holders are not entitled to the following:

  • the exercise of any political rights
  • visits to restricted or protected areas without permission
  • mountaineering, research, and missionary work without permission.
 
Citizenship By Naturalization

CITIZENSHIP BY NATURALIZATION

Those that have lived in India for 12 years can apply for citizenship by naturalization. The applicant must have lived for a total of 12 years in India within a 14 year period, and must have lived in India for 12 months straight prior to applying for naturalization.

 
Citizenship By Registration

CITIZENSHIP BY REGISTRATION

Those falling in any of the following categories may apply for citizenship by registration:

  • a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in India for 7 years (having lived in India for 12 months immediately prior to application);
  • a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India;
  • a person who is married to a citizen of India and is ordinarily resident in India for 7 years before making an application for registration;
  • minor children of persons who are citizens of India;
  • a person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered as citizens of India;
  • a person of full age and capacity who, or either of his parents, was earlier citizen of independent India, and has been residing in India for 1 year immediately before making an application for registration;
  • a person of full age and capacity who has been registered as an overseas citizen of India for 5 years, and who has been residing in India for 1 year before making an application for registration.