At the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2003, the then Prime Minister of India had announced grant of dual citizenship to PIOs. In 2004, by an amendment to the Citizenship Act, the facility of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) was made available to PIOs in 16 specified countries.
At the last Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2005 held in Mumbai, the Prime Minister had announced Government’s intention to PIOs of any country (except Pakistan & Bangladesh) that allows dual citizenship. This has since been given legal backing by the Indian Parliament, which approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August 2005.
The amended Act enables the Central Government to register, as an overseas citizen of India (OCI), any person of full age and capacity:
- (1) who is a citizen of another country now, but was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after the commencement of the Constitution of India on 26th January 1950;
- (2) who is a citizen of another country, but was eligible to become a citizen of India at the time of commencement of the Constitution;
- (3) who is a citizen of another country, but belonged to a territory that became a part of India after the 15th of August 1947;
- (4) who is child or a grand child of such a citizen; or
a minor child of a person mentioned in (1) to (4) above. No person who is or has been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh shall be eligible to be registered as an OCI.
Meanwhile, Government has also amended the Rules, simplified the application form and streamlined the procedure for grant of OCI. In straightforward cases, where there are no adverse records against the applicant, the Missions/Posts can themselves grant OCI. An OCI is entitled to a Registration Card and a Visa Sticker. The details in this regard would be notified shortly by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on its website http://www.mha.nic.in MHA would also issue instructions for the guidance of our Missions/Posts. The Government expects to launch this facility in October 2005.