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Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Dual Citizneship Woes
Mike Ghouse - http://www.mikeghouse.net/
Dr. Sujit Pandit's story: My Dual Citizenship Woes
MY DUAL CITIZENSHIP WOES: MY RECENT EXPERIENCE WITH THE IMMIGRATION
DEPARTMENT AT THE KOLKATA AIRPORT AND THE LESSONS I LEARNT
My advice to all my friends who hold an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) Card
and those who aspire to get one.
I am an American citizen. I also carry an OCI card (Overseas Citizen of
India) since 2007.
On Saturday, June 20, 2009 , I arrived at the Kolkata Netaji Subhas Airport
from Detroit via Singapore , by Singapore Airlines (SQ 516) at 10:30 P.M.
I presented myself to an Immigration Officer ( Mr. Biswas ) for immigration
clearance. I gave him my American passport and my OCI card. He demanded to
see my visa from the Indian consular office. Unfortunately, that visa was
attached to my old passport and I did not bring it with me.
I explained to him that I am sorry I forgot to bring my old passport but
since I do possess a valid OCI Card that would automatically mean that I do
also possess a permanent (life long) visa for India and there are proofs
that I have traveled multiple times to India after I had received my OCI
Mr. Biswas detained me for two hours inside the airport and then he told
me that he is going to allow me to stay in India for 72 hours and asked me
to report to the Foreign Relations Regional Officer (FRRO) in the city
within 72 hours. He kept my passport. During all that time I had no
opportunity either to approach his OC (Officer in Charge) although I asked
for it, or to contact my relatives who came to the airport to receive me and
were waiting outside and had no idea why I was being held back or if I have
Forgetting to bring my old passport was my own fault but I 'forgot' to bring
it partly because I knew I have my OCI Card with me and I thought, that
means something, I really believed that I am a citizen of India too. Why
would a citizen also need a visa to enter his own country? I thought I
have a dual citizenship for both the USA and India . Other wise, what is the
difference between an ordinary foreigner and the OCI Card holder?
Next day was a Sunday, I called a friend in Ann Arbor who went into my
house, got my old passport and sent me the scanned copy of my old passport
and a copy of my permanent visa by e-mail.
So, on Monday I went to see Mr. Bibhas Talukdar , the FRRO. He hardly
looked at the documents (the scanned visa) that I had with me he simply
asked me to get my old passport by courier mail within another seven days.
He appeared gleeful telling me that it is only out of "pity" that he is
allowing me to stay in India for seven more days. He was totally
unimpressed by either my status as a Professor Emeritus of the University of
Michigan or my age (70+)
I called my friend in Ann Arbor again who then sent my old passport by
FedEx. Three days later the passport arrived. Since I had to leave Kolkata
for prescheduled visit to Bangalore , my niece took it to Mr. Talukdar . But
due to lack of communication between the FRRO office and the airport
immigration department my passport had not arrived at the city office even
after 9 days. My niece had to go to the FRRO's office three times once
waiting until 6 P.M. still they did not have my passport. They only
promised: "it will come soon". At last, 12 days after my arrival, my niece
got my passport.
From this painful and anxiety provoking experience I have learned a few
1. The loud talk about "Dual Citizenship" for Indian Americans is just a
2. The OCI card just does not have any value. It is just a piece of
expensive junk. You still need a visa every time you travel to India whether
or not you possess an OCI card. Only difference is that for the high price
of getting an OCI card you will get a "life long " visa. A 10-year visa is
3. When coming to India always consider yourself a foreigner and bring
your visa with you, there will be no exceptions. Your OCI card is not a visa
4. In fact, you will probably be treated worse than an ordinary
foreigner arriving without a valid visa. Because a foreigner especially a
white Caucasian will at least be treated with courtesy and probably offered
a temporary visa if there is no reason to deny it, but not you.
Please feel free to forward this mail to any of your friends who may befit
from my experience. Especially feel free to forward this to any influential
politician or civil servant in India that you may know.
Sujit K. Pandit M.D. Professor Emeritus, Department of Anesthesiology
OVERSEAS CITIZENSHIP OF INDIA (OIC) SUMMARY
Thanks to Dr. Jayasankar for providing the following information
about OVERSEAS CITIZENSHIP OF INDIA (OCI)
1. The Consulate General of India (CGI) in New York (NY) is pleased to announce the
launching of the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) Application procedures and will
commence receiving the applications for OCI on Monday the 9th of January 2006 from
residents of the following States and Territories: New York, New Jersey, Maine,
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Virgin Islands. (Applications will be accepted only through express mail. For
procedural details and clarifications, please go to link (Steps to Apply for OCI).
2. A foreign national, eligible to become a citizen of India on January 26, 1950 or was a
citizen of India on, or at anytime after, January 26, 1950 or belonged to a territory that
became part of India after August 15, 1947 and his/her children and grand children,
provided his/her country of citizenship allows dual citizenship under the local laws, is
eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). Minor children of such person
are also eligible for OCI. However, if the applicant had ever been a citizen of Pakistan or
Bangladesh, he/she will not be eligible for OCI.
3. With OCI Status, a foreign passport holder is entitled to the following:
(a) Multiple-entry, multi-purpose, life-long visa to visit
India. The holder of the OCI Certificate would still
need to carry his/her foreign passport, but a Visa
"U" ("U" for Universal) sticker would be affixed on
the foreign passport;
(b)Exemption from reporting to police authorities for
any length of stay in India;
(c) Parity with NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) in financial, economic and educational fields EXCEPT in relation Consular Press & Publicity Commerce Culture Education India Information
Press Opinion Issues in Focus Consulate General of India, New York, U.S.A. Page 1 of 3
4. Please note that OCI is not, repeat not Dual Citizenship. The Constitution of India does
not permit the facility of holding Indian Citizenship simultaneously with a foreign
citizenship. The OCI holder would therefore not be eligible for the following rights in
India: (i) Right to vote; (ii) Right to hold constitutional office (i.e. parliament, courts,
cabinet posts, etc.); and (iii) Right to hold posts in government services sector.
5. The OCI Status is a privilege extended only to those persons who qualify for that
privilege. The OCI Status accorded to a person can be revoked by Government of India in
cases that warrant such action. For detailed information on the "Overseas Citizen of
India", visit the web site - http://www.mha.nic.in/ of the Ministry of Home Affairs,
Government of India.
6. Applicant must necessarily satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply for OCI Status.
7. Additional Notes :
a. A PIO card holder can substitute his PIO Card with the OIC. He or she would
be required to surrender their PIO Card in that event. All PIO Card holders
seeking to substitute their PIO card with the OCI facility must submit a copy
of their PIO Card during submission of the application for OCI.
b. Applying as a family of four (4) members : You may apply jointly in a single
application as spouses and no more than two (2) of your minor children.
The necessary fee would be charged for each applicant.
c. OCI Applications can be made on behalf of a minor child by guardian/parent.
8. Processing of your OCI application is initially a joint effort between you (the applicant)
and the OCI Cell at the CGI. Therefore, you need to clearly understand the process of
filing the application, keep your original documentation complete in all respects and follow
the various steps involved carefully. This would facilitate smooth and quick processing of
your application. an/parent.
9. Visit http://www.mha.nic.in//oci/oci-main.htm and click Online Registration If you are
applying as an individual or as a family, select the appropriate option. A reference number
will be assigned to you by the computer upon completing the online registration. You
must present this number when you arrive at the Consulate.
(Family of 4 (spouses and two minor children) to fill-in part A in one go. If a family
consists of more than 2 minor children, application for third minor child be filled-in as an
individual by selecting option (i). In cases where child/children is/are not minor,
to acquisition of agricultural and plantation properties.
(i) If you or one of your parents or one of your grandparents was a citizen of India after January
(ii) If you or one of your parents or one of your grandparents belonged to a former territory (Goa, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Sikkim and Pondicherry ) that became part of India after August 15, 1947.
(iii) If you or one of your parents or one of your grandparents was eligible to become a citizen of
India at the time of commencement of the Constitution of India on January 26, 1950.
Consulate General of India, New York, U.S.A. Page 2 of 3
independent application in r/o of each such child need to be filled-in.)
10. The OCI application consists of Part-A and Part-B. Part-A would be completed online
through Online Registration at www.mha.nic.in/oci/oci-main.htm (Ministry of Home
Affairs) site. Part-B would be completed by typing required information or writing in
capital block letters with black or blue ink. The computer would assign to you a Reference
Number. Retain this reference number as it would be required when you submit your
application at the Consulate.
11. You are required to submit the OCI application (Part-A and Part-B) in duplicate. Part-B is automatically printed out when Part-A is Saved & Print command is selected at the popup window. For each of the two applications, an original PASSPORT SIZE color
photo ( light colour background , not white background ) without
border with front view of person's head and shoulders showing the full face in the
middle of the photograph . At the end of Part-B, there is a list of documents that are
required at the time you submit your application. The fee for the application is USD 275
(in favor of Consulate General of India, NewYork) (USD 25 for PIO Card
holders) . The payment should be in the form of certified checks or money orders in
favour of " CONSULATE GENERAL OF INDIA " ( no personal checks ) .
12. Additional information about photographs:- a) Background colour and the dress
colour should not be the same ( it should be different colour ) . b) If applicant wearing
glasses please make sure that there is no glare on the glasses or take the picture without
glasses. c) Photograph should be front view with shoulder visible. d) Photographs should
be bright ( please note the colour of skin and brightness of the photo is different. ) e)
Photograph should not be stapled and should not have any signature ( no signature on
photo ) . http://ociindia.nic.in/ociindia/ICAO-Photo.pdf
13. For detailed application procedure, see steps to Apply for OCI.
14. For detailed instructions during the review process, see Important Instructions for OCI
Applicant under Review.
15. The application review process may take from one to four months depending on the documents and proofs you provide in support of your application. We appreciate your cooperation.
For any further information or clarification on OCI, visit: www.mha.nic.in/oci/ocimain.
htm (Ministry of Home Affairs website) and the Frequently Asked Questions at
OCI link at : www.indiacgny.org . Enquiries on OCI can also be addressed to OCI Cell
at Consulate General of India, 3 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10065 or Tel: (212)
774-0605 & Fax: (212) 734-1595 / (212) 570-9581
or E-mail : email@example.com (Please mention your Tel. No. in the email for us to
contact you).Consulate General of India, New York, U.S.A. Page 3 of 3