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New visa rules trouble Indian Americans: Minister


New Delhi, July 14 , 2010

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi was flooded with complaints from Indian Americans during his US visit over India's tightened visa rules.

"Every state that I visited in the US, they (Indian Americans) raised the problem regarding the new visa rules and suggested we make amendments," Ravi, who returned to New Delhi Tuesday after a six-day visit, told IANS.

Ravi visited Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix and New York and interacted with Indian Americans living there.

The home ministry had, in an attempt to tighten security in the light of the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks, notified that Indians who have acquired other nationalities surrender their passports and obtain a "renunciation certificate" to be able to travel to India.

This was after Pakistani American David Headley pleaded guilty to making several scouting trips to India prior to the Mumbai attack.

The 1955 Indian Citizenship Act does not allow dual citizenship and those who continue to retain their Indian passport and use it as a travel document in spite of acquiring foreign citizenship are committing an offence under the Indian Passport Act 1976, say officials.

Applications for renunciation certificates, running into thousands, are pending at the Indian consulate in New York alone after the Indian home ministry issued this order.

While Ravi maintained that "decisions can be made only in the country's security interest", he said he will discuss the matter with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

"The government has to take all possible steps to plug all loopholes," the minister added.