US-India dual citizenship
April 11, 2006 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I have some questions about dual citizenship (U.S.-Indian).

Background: my boyfriend was born in India and moved to the States when he was about 5. Sometime (shortly) before he hit the age of majority, his parents became naturalized citizens and by extension so did he.

I have been encouraging him to pursue dual citizenship for sometime but I have an ungodly number of questions about the process. A major reason I'd like him to do so is that it's extremely difficult for non-Indians to a) buy property in India and b) adopt children there, both of which are things we might want to one day do. (Correct me if I'm wrong on either of those counts, by the way.)

Now for my questions:

1) Will this cause problems, security clearance-wise for either of us (I'm an American native)? Neither of us has ruled out working for the government at some point in time.

2) Should potential politicians steer clear of obtaining dual citizenship?

3) Dual citizens: what are some of the pros and cons of your dual citizenship?

4) Indians or Indian-Americans: advice?

5) Anything else I should know?
posted by anjamu to Law & Government (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oooh! Commenting first on my own question!

I also want to know what the situation would be if we eventually had children: would they be dual citizens by fact of their father's country of birth, or would he have to obtain citizenship for that to be the case?
posted by anjamu at 1:41 PM on April 11, 2006

Best answer: India does not allow 'Dual Citizenship'. What they have is called Overseas Citizenship of India which is almost, but not entirely like it.

From reading the descriptions, what it does is make you a second class citizen there (a bit higher on the totem pole than a tourist :).
posted by Arthur Dent at 1:51 PM on April 11, 2006

Best answer: Basic Primer

From the link, you will see that Dual Citizenship is not allowed by the Indian Constitution. However, in recent years the Indian government has been trying to reach out more to the Indian diaspora and has introduced a few separate schemes allowing a 'not-quite-citizen/not-quite-tourist' status.

I think your boyfriend could opt for the Person of Indian origin status, or the Overseas Citizenship of India status. Under either scheme, he will NOT be able to vote, possess an Indian passport, or generally work for the government in an elected or appointed manner. I believe under OCI or PIO status, he will be able to own property, and generally have the same economic rights as citizens and have extended multi-entry access to visit India.

The differences between the OCI and the PIO are:

1. OCI is entitled to life long visa free travel to India whereas for PIO cardholder, it is for 15 years.

2. PIO cardholder is required to register with local Police authority for stay exceeding 180 days in India on any single visit whereas OCI is exempted from registration with Police authority for any length of stay in India.

I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, although I invariably use my U.S. passport. On the U.S. side of things, my Canadian citizenship has never been an issue and I am treated as a U.S. citizen for all imaginable purposes.
posted by buddha9090 at 1:53 PM on April 11, 2006

It's not exactly clear from your question, but I assume he is an Indian citizen and is now seeking US citizenship, right?
posted by johannes at 1:56 PM on April 11, 2006

Also: your boyfriend should look into the "same economic rights as citizen." I am fairly certain you can own property, but I think certain occupations, even outside the government, have significant barriers of entry in India (e.g. the practice of law).
posted by buddha9090 at 1:56 PM on April 11, 2006

Let me be sure I understand, your BF naturalized before his 18th birthday through application made on his behalf by his naturalizing parents (aka "legitimated")?

To answer your background related questions, security barriers are anecdotal at best and just as many anecdotes exist to dispel them as to confirm them. The reality is that much of the "background material" gathered in a background check is subjective.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:10 PM on April 11, 2006

The US also does not allow you to become a citizen unless you renounce other citizenships.

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen"

Many governments do not have a similar clause in their oath of citizenship, meaning that a US citizen who wishes to become a [XX] citizen may keep US citizenship.

It seems in this case, that the ideal situation for you would be to get the US citizenship and then the Indian PIO.
posted by jetdata at 2:44 PM on April 11, 2006

Best answer: A few answer to your questions:

1) I'm a dual citizen, British by birth, naturalized American as an adult. Never had security clearance issues -- I'm not exactly in any position to know top-secret stuff :-), but I have had several background checks for low-level things and it's not been an issue.

2) I would imagine that if you ended up going into any politics that were high-profile, it might end up being an issue of "where your loyalties lie" rather than anything else.

3) No cons of my dual status that I've seen. Pros: I get to skip the longer passport lines when flying to Europe. :-) And if I ever want to live or work in the EU, I'm golden.

4) I'm ethnically Indian, but via a couple of countries in between, so I can't help you on the India-specific questions.

5a) Children: My own children are adopted domestically within the US. Both have American citizenship, but we also managed to get UK citizenship for them by virtue of my British citizenship. In the UK, this is okay for "natural children", but for adoption when living overseas it's "at their discretion" -- apparently they had no problem with it. Of course, if/when they have children of their own, they won't be able to get them UK/EU citizenship unless they're living in the UK themselves. (It only works one generation out if you're not resident in the UK.)

5b) We looked into adoption from India a few years ago. Apparently as long as I was of Indian descent it was okay. We didn't investigate it too much further, but I think that probably answers your question in part.

5c) Oh, property: my parents are dual citizens (US/UK) and are part owners of property in India somewhere. So it certainly isn't impossible. India would love to see investment by NRI's (Non-resident Indians, or whatever the term is these days), so they'd of course not make it too hard. I'd think.

Any of the above might have changed in the last few years, so of coure check into it more carefully...
posted by navsaria at 3:01 PM on April 11, 2006

If you have children, and if they're born in the US, then under the 14th Amendment they are US citizens, end of discussion. Anyone born within the territory of the US is a citizen of the US no matter what, and their citizenship cannot be revoked.

There are a lot of couples who come to the US on vacation just when the mother is about to give birth, and have their babies here, and then take them back home again overseas. Later in life, kids like that who want to come to the US simply visit a US embassy, produce their birth certificates and other ID to prove who they are, and will be issued US passports.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:23 PM on April 11, 2006

The US also does not allow you to become a citizen unless you renounce other citizenships.

That's not entirely accurate, or at least not usefully accurate.

The US does in fact require that you say those words to representatives of the US government.

However, many nations do not view that act as expatriating. The US, for example, would not. If you took that exact same oath before Canadian officials when taking Canadian citizenship, the US government would still consider you a US citizen. That is, making that renunciation does not necessarily have the effect of renouncing your citizenship.

So the US requires that you renounce your former citizenship, but does not require you to actually, effectually renounce it, and many people remain happily dual-national after naturalizing in the US.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:01 PM on April 11, 2006

Response by poster: Oof. I wasn't so hot on the wording in the question.

Yes, he's a naturalized American citizen, with a U.S. passport and all that jazz.

I was under the impression that if we were to have children, they would be both Indian and American citizens by virtue of their father's foreign birth. At least this was the case with some of my childhood friends who had European-born parents. In any case, they'll be American citizens for sure, but would they be able to apply for PIO/OCI status?

Thank you all so much so far, and please keep the responses coming!
posted by anjamu at 4:47 PM on April 11, 2006

I am exactly in the same boat, I was 14 and my brother was 15 when my parents were both naturalized. I need to send in form N-600, my brother took care of his stuff a couple years ago. His daughter is a US citizen, also based on this form - so if he has kids with a non-US citizen (like my bro), the kids will become US citizens at birth - all that needs to be done is a couple forms need to be filled out. I think my brother filled them all out at the US consulate/embassy in Warsaw.
posted by jedrek at 4:49 PM on April 11, 2006

Best answer: Anjamu, in regards to your kids (you guys are just boyfriend-girlfriend? that's some planning ahead), they would have the same options as your boyfriend currently has: that is, no rights for citizenship (as of now), but access to the PIO/OCI status.

This pdf may help outline eligibility issues

Your kids would be eligible for PIO/OCI status regardless of whether your boyfriend gets this status. Functionally, for the things you want to do, it doesn't seem like OCI status is that much inferior to actual citizenship. Not being able to vote is a bummer, but hey, my people have a billion votes to count already, do they really want to deal with absentee ballots?
posted by buddha9090 at 5:09 PM on April 11, 2006

Response by poster: you guys are just boyfriend-girlfriend? that's some planning ahead

I knew someone would say that. :) We happened to meet at the beginning of college. If we'd met five years later in life, we might have taken some bigger step by now, but we're still waiting until we finish grad school. I'm not three weeks in and imagining what our kids will look like or anything.

I don't think my boyfriend ever planned to run for president of India or any such thing. Weird, though, provided that laws stay the same, he can't be leader of either of the two. Huh.
posted by anjamu at 5:47 PM on April 11, 2006

A couple of threads over on that might be of interest/use. They have an entire forum on cultural identity.
posted by trip and a half at 6:03 PM on April 11, 2006

By the way Dual Citizenship has been recently introduced in India.
Official site. News Announcement.
posted by dhruva at 7:04 PM on April 11, 2006

The US does in fact require that you say those words to representatives of the US government.

Only if you naturalize. You do not have to take an oath if you are a legitimated child of naturalized parents.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:28 AM on April 12, 2006

I was under the impression that if we were to have children, they would be both Indian and American citizens by virtue of their father's foreign birth. At least this was the case with some of my childhood friends who had European-born parents.

Every country has different rules. Disregard anything you know about how other countries do it.

For example (at risk of going off-topic), in Japan citizenship is passed on through the father's bloodline only. I know someone who has moved to Japan and married a Japanese woman. His children (born in Japan to a Japanese mother) are not Japanese citizens.
posted by winston at 12:21 PM on April 12, 2006

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