Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Inc.
PO Box 560117 New York, New York 11356 USA
Web: www.gopio.net, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +1-818 708-3885
FOR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION OF NRI AND PIOs
NEW GOVERNMENT OF INDIA RULES CREATE UNDUE HARDSHIPS FOR OVERSEAS INDIANS WHO HAVE BECOME NATURALIZED CITIZENS OF OTHER COUNTRIES
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) strongly objects to the retroactive enforcement of rules regarding the surrender of Indian passport by those who have acquired citizenship of other countries. The new rules impose undue and unnecessary burden on Persons of Indian Origin. Also, the prescribed fee of $175 (USD) is atrociously high.
The notice posted on the website of several Indian embassies and consulates stipulates that Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired citizenship of other countries are required to surrender their Indian passports within 90 days of their acquisition of citizenship of the countries of their adoption and obtain 'Surrender Certificate' from the nearest Indian Consulate. There should not be any objection in surrendering the old Indian passport. However, the new rules should not be applied retroactively.Retroactive enforcement of the new rules and requiring people of Indian origin who got citizenship of other countries years ago, to obtain "surrender Certificate" by paying hefty service fee and penalty for not surrendering within certain time is a rule that is unwarranted, burdensome and not well thought out. In the meantime, a person of Indian origin applying for an Indian visa, OCI/PIO card or wanting other consular services is denied any such service without complying with the new rules.
Per Section 9 of the Citizenship Act 1955, "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." Thus, Indians who have acquired citizenship of other countries are covered under Section 9 and their Indian citizenship is automatically terminated on acquiring citizenship of another country. The same Act has provisions for renouncing citizenship of India. Per Section 8, "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." Renunciation of citizenship has to be applied on a prescribed form, while automatic termination of citizenship, covered under Section 9, requires no formal application to the Indian government.
There are a few millions of people who have obtained citizenship of other countries over the last fifty five years, since the passage of Indian Citizenship Act 1955. The Indian Passport does not contain any instruction for surrender (per Passport issued in 1974 by Indian Consulate in the US) except the ones issued by the High Commission of India in Canada which stamps passports with warning that states, "If the holder acquires nationality of another country, he should surrender this passport forthwith to the nearest Indian Mission abroad." Many of the former Indian citizens have been travelling to India on passports of countries of their adoption but with Indian visas granted by the same consulates whose websites now have postings of new rules. If the law or rules did exist in the past, Indian embassies and consulates everywhere should have asked for the surrender of Indian passports before granting Indian visas for the first time to Persons of Indian Origin who had acquired citizenship of other countries. Requiring surrender of Indian passports after the lapse of many years of acquisition of such citizenship, would cause undue hardship and delay in getting consular services.
The new rules also require that an applicant who has lost, damaged or surrendered his/her Indian passport to a foreign Government, he/she should furnish certified copies of the following documents:
- Details of last held Indian passport (Passport No., Date of Issue & Place of issue). The onus of providing details rest on the applicant.
- Official documents submitted to authorities of new country at the time of obtaining citizenship/naturalization & documents used for entry such as US Form I -130.
- Notarized letter explaining reasons for loss.
- Police report.
A large majority of the new citizens did not have any use for their old Indian passports and may have lost, misplaced or never kept in their possession after naturalization. The production of items 1 and 2 above, in particular, will not be easy and could take months to obtain from the immigration authorities. In the meantime, consular services will not be available to visit the mother country, even for emergency situations.
The Government of India is urged to reconsider the retroactive enforcement of the new rules as many thousands of people who have acquired citizenship of other countries could suffer undue and unnecessary hardship for no fault of their own. Indians who have been naturalized for years should be given the same 90 days to obtain "surrender certificate" as being allowed to those Indians who become citizens of other countries now and heretofore, without fees and penalties. The minimum service fee of $175 (USD) for the surrender certificate is also very high and should be reduced to a reasonable amount of $25 (USD).
GOPIO urges Indian community groups, organizations and individuals to join in protesting against the new rules 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.
For more information, please contact Inder Singh, Chairman of GOPIO International at +1-818-708-3885, Email: GOPIO-Intl@sbcglobal.net
GOPIO has initiated a PetitionOnline to be submitted to the Prime Minister of India. Visit http://www.PetitionOnline.com/ip100521/petition.html. If you agree on this petition, please sign and show your support.