The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International) acknowledges with gratitude the substantial achievement realized with remarkably quick action when the government of India issued a clarification on June 1, 2010 "that PIOs will not be asked to pay any renunciation charges".
There still remained valid issues that needed prompt remedial action by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). For this reason, GOPIO had continued its appeal to the Government of India on behalf the global Indian community in pursuit of fairness and equitable treatment of those Indians who have become citizens of other countries. These concerns include lost, misplaced or missing passports, substantiation documents, surrender forms, fees and cut-off dates. GOPIO has brought these concerns to the attention of Hon. Vayalar Ravi, Minister of MOIA.
We are pleased to announce that the following communiqui from Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has substantially resolved the matter and eased the burden previously placed on Indians who acquired citizenship of other countries.
Dr. A. Didar Singh
Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA)
Date: Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 1:11 AM
Subject: passport surrender issue
D.O.No.OI-15014/02/2009-DS 11th June 2010
Dear Overseas Indian,
This Ministry received a large number of representations from PIOs, particularly in the U.S.A., protesting the recent circulars hosted on the websites of our Missions in the US regarding the levy of registration charges for 'declaration of renunciation of Indian Citizenship' and the imposition of penalties for delayed surrender or non-surrender of Indian passports last held by them. Some of these representations and petitions were also addressed to the Hon'ble Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, as also the Hon'ble Prime Minister.
2. I write this to inform you that in appreciation of the sentiments expressed in many of these representations and petitions, I had taken up the issues raised therein with the Ministry of Home Affairs (which administers the Citizenship Act and the Rules made thereunder, which provide for the levy of a fee of Rs.7000/- for registration of a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship by a PIO) and the Ministry of External Affairs (which administers the Passport Act and Rules, which provide for penalties for delayed surrender or non-surrender of Indian passports last held by PIOs, as also their misuse).
3. I am glad to report that following my demarche interventions MHA had issued a circular communication on 01.06.2010, clarifying that the fee of Rs.7000/- for registration of a 'declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship' will only be charged from PIOs, who intend to acquire foreign nationality/citizenship in future and those who have already acquired such foreign citizenship in the past, will, by virtue of Section 9 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, cease to be Indian citizens forthwith, upon such acquisition of foreign citizenship and they will not be required to make such a 'declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship'.
4. As regards the surrender of Indian passports last held by such PIOs, it has been clarified by MEA vide their circular letter dated 03.05.2010 [para 2(viii)] that there would be no need to surrender a passport which expired before 2005.
5. I trust with these clarifications issued by MHA and MEA, the grievance expressed by you PIOs, stands redressed. *
Dr. A. Didar Singh)
Copy to: JS(PMO), JS(CPV), JS(Foreigners), MHA
All Indian Missions in US (Washington, NY, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston)
Earlier GOPIO had sent a letter to Minsiter Vayalar Ravi on the remaining issues of Indian Passport Surrender, parts of which are reproduced below:
However, there are still valid issues that need prompt remedial action by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs. These concerns include the following which need to be addressed in a timely and equitable manner:
1. A large majority of the people of Indian Origin who have become citizens of other countries did not have any use for their old Indian passports and may have lost, misplaced or never kept in their possession after acquiring citizenship of other countries. Those who still have their passports have no problem in surrendering their old passports to obtain Surrender Certificate. But those who do not have their passports with them are required to 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.
The production of items 1 and 2 above will not be easy and could take months to obtain from the local or regional immigration authorities.
There are many people who have had long term visas for India but do not have the old Indian passport with them. When their Indian visa comes up for renewal, although renewed earlier multiple times and visited India several times, they will not be able to renew it. In this category, there are people who visit India to meet relatives, to oversee the philanthropic projects they have initiated and/or attend/participate in international meets, such as PBD. We make the following suggestions in this respect:
7 For People of Indian Origin who have been citizens of their adopted countries for over ten years, the validity of their Indian passports which they had at the time of obtaining citizenship of the new countries had long expired. Their obsolete passports cannot be used in anyway and should no longer present security risks. The Government of India should relax the current rigid requirement and consider asking for the following documents to obtain Surrender Certificate:
1. Affidavit giving details of the passport and reasons for loss.
2. Police report, if necessary.
2. As per Section 9 of Indian Citizenship Act 1955, "Any citizen of India who by naturalization, registration or otherwise voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country shall cease to be a citizen of India." Indian citizenship is thus automatically terminated on acquiring US citizenship. Therefore, Indians in the USA do not have dual citizenship of India and of USA.
Indian Consulates require applicants for "Surrender Certificate" to submit "Renunciation of Indian citizenship" Form which starts with "Declaration of Renunciation of citizenship made by a citizen of India who is also a citizen or national of another country." Item 3 of the Form talks about the acquisition of US citizenship while item 4 talks of renouncing of Indian citizenship.
Item 6 on the form says, "I ------------------------ do solemnly and sincerely declare that the foregoing particulars stated in this declaration are true and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true."
Anyone signing the current form to renounce Indian citizenship is doing so incorrectly and maybe doing so illegally as well. What is being asked amounts to surrendering something which a person does not have. We suggest that a simple "Surrender of Indian Passport Form" be designed for the purpose of surrender of Indian passport after acquisition of citizenship of the country of immigrant's domicile.
3. The service fee of $175 USD for Passport Surrender Certificate is unreasonably high and should be reduced to a reasonable amount. Doing so would preserve the loyalty of Indians who have acquired citizenship of other countries and would go a long way to remove the impression that the Government of India is gouging NRIs and PIOs.
4. Many people have paid the fee of $175 and penalty of $250 to obtain his/her surrender certificate prior to June 1, 2010. It may be administrative inconvenience to give refund but it will continue to be source of anger in the minds of many people and somewhat tarnish years of goodwill built by the mutual healthy relationship between India and its Diaspora.
Timely attention is required to address these outstanding issues in a fair and equitable manner. Indians who have become citizens of other countries must not be made to feel that the Government of India is preying on them. Such negative feeling could diminish their loyalty and continuing support for their motherland.
We at GOPIO International acknowledge the efforts of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to respond to our concerns promptly and take remedial action as noted above. We also acknowledge and appreciate the overwhelming support from the global Indian community from all corners of the world. We are convinced that this massive level of support made a tremendous difference in the outcome of our appeals, as we will continue to monitor and seek redress on issues and concerns affecting the global Indian community.