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Indian Immigration Lawyer in New Jersey: Dual Citizenship and OCI

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2014 | Indian Americans/Hindu |

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One of the more frequently misunderstood concepts when applying for US Naturalization is the idea of being able to a “dual citizen.” Technically speaking, when one applies to be become a naturalized citizen of the United States, he or she is renouncing or giving up allegiance and citizenship to his or her native country of citizenship. Many citizens of India who are current lawful permanent residents of the United States may be surprised to learn that India, contrary to popular belief, also does not have dual citizenship. In fact, it is prohibited by the Indian Constitution to retain Indian citizenship if one voluntarily acquires citizenship in another country. There is something called “OCI” which stands for Overseas Citizenship of India. However, this is not the same as retaining your Indian Citizenship.

Limitations of OCI

A person who is a US Citizen as well as an OCI of India does not have the following rights to vote or hold some of the highest public offices in the country including President, Vice President, Judge of the Supreme Court, etc.

Benefits of OCI

However, the benefits may outweigh the limitations. According the Indian Embassy, some of the privileges accorded to OCI holders are:

· A multiple entry, multi purpose life-long visa to visit India

· Exemption from local police registration requirements

· “Parity with Non-resident Indians (NRIs) in respect of economic, financial and educational fields, except in relation to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.”

For most Indian people who have become naturalized citizens of the US, the motivation of being an OCI is the unfettered ability to visit and stay in India for extended periods of time without the necessity of having to apply for a visa or register with the local police after staying there for more than 180 days. And obviously, if one is a U.S. Citizen, one never has to worry about re-entry problems back into the States after extended periods abroad, whether for work or for pleasure.

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