NEW GOVERNMENT OF INDIA RULES CREATE UNDUE HARDS
HIPS FOR INDIAN AMERICANS
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) strongly objects to the new rules imposed by the Government of India regarding the surrender of Indian passports upon acquisition of US citizenship because those new rules impose undue and unnecessary burdens on the Indian American community.
The most recent notice posted on the website of Consul Generals of India, San Francisco and New York stipulates that Persons of Indian Origin in the United States of America who have acquired U.S citizenship, are required to surrender their Indian Passports to the nearest Indian Consulate within 90 days of their naturalization as US citizens. The surrender certificate is free if the Indian passport expired before January 1, 2005. However, if the Indian Passport expired after January 1, 2005 and were not surrendered within three years of obtaining US citizenship, a service fee of $175 (US$) will be charged, provided the Indian passport was not used for travel in which case a penalty would also apply. The Government of India requires completion of a form and payment of fee and penalty, if applicable, for obtaining the surrender certificate. A US citizen of Indian origin applying for an Indian visa, OCI/PIO cards or wanting other consular services may not be able to get any such service without complying with the new rules.
Per Section 8 of the Citizenship Act 1955, “any citizen of India of full age and capacity, who is also a citizen or national of another country, makes in the prescribed manner a declaration renouncing his Indian citizenship, the declaration shall be registered by the prescribed authority; and, upon such registration, that person shall cease to be a citizen of India.” However, Section 9 of the same Act states that, “Any citizen of India who by naturalization, registration or otherwise voluntarily acquires, or has at any time between the 26th January, 1950 and the commencement of this Act voluntarily acquired, the citizenship of another country shall, upon such acquisition or, as the case may be, such commencement, cease to be a citizen of India.”
The provisions for making a declaration of renunciation are separate and distinct from the provisions of termination of citizenship. While renunciation of citizenship is covered in Section 8 of the Citizenship Act 1955 and has to be applied on a prescribed form, automatic termination of citizenship is covered under Section 9 and requires no formal application to the Indian government. Indians in the USA who have acquired American citizenship are covered under section 9 and not under Section 8. But the new rules posted on the consular website postings require that the “Indian passport must be surrendered within 90 days of US naturalization” and ‘Surrender Certificate’ should be obtained from the nearest Consul General of India. This rule will be enforced by refusal to grant consular services, such as visa to India, grant of OCI/PIO card, etc.
There are several thousands of people who have obtained US citizenship over the last over sixty years and they have been travelling to India on American passports with Indian visas granted by the same consulates whose websites now have new rules which are applicable retroactively. If the law did exist in the past, Indian consulates in the USA should have asked for the surrender of Indian passports before granting Indian visas to U.S citizens of Indian origin. Requiring Americans of Indian Origin to surrender their Indian passports after the lapse of many years of their naturalization as US citizens, would cause undue hardship and delay in getting consular services. In case an applicant has lost, damaged or surrendered his Indian passport to a foreign Government, he/she is required to furnish certified copies of following documents, as per notice on Indian Consulate website postings:
1. Details of last held Indian passport (Passport No., Date of Issue & Place of issue). The onus of providing details rest on the applicant.
2. Official documents submitted to US authority at the time of obtaining US citizenship/naturalization & I -130.
3. Notarized letter explaining reasons for loss.
4. Police report.
A large majority of the new citizens have no use for their old Indian passports and may have lost, misplaced or never kept in their possession after naturalization as US citizens. The production of items 1 and 2 above, in particular, will not be easy and could take months to obtain from the U.S government and elsewhere.
GOPIO urges the Government of India to reconsider the retroactive enforcement of the new rules as many thousands of people who have acquired citizenship of the United States could suffer undue and unnecessary hardship for no fault of their own.
GOPIO urges Indian community groups, organizations and individuals to join in protesting the new rules imposed by the Government of India by writing to the Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) at email@example.com and Secretary Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) at firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy to GOPIO at GOPIO-Intl@sbcglobal.net.
GOPIO is a non-partisan, non-sectarian global organization with chapters in several countries, actively promoting the interests of people of Indian origin worldwide by monitoring and addressing current critical issues of concern, and by enhancing cooperation and communication between groups of Indians living in various countries.