The Indian government’s Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) programs are often incorrectly described as offering “dual nationality” or “dual citizenship.” This is not true, as India does not recognizec dual citizenship.
Dual Citizenship – Dual citizenship, as the name suggests, is an arrangement whereby a citizen holds two citizenships – one of the country and other of the state to which he belongs, or of two different countries simultaneously.
For instance, in the USA if a person belongs to, say, the State of California, he is also a citizen of the State of California besides being the citizen of the United States.
In India, however, there is no dual citizenship in this sense. If a person belongs to Bihar or UP or Delhi he is simply a citizen of the India irrespective of where he is domiciled.
Recently, India has granted what might well be called dual citizenship to persons of Indian origin who have taken the citizenship of any of the 16 specified countries by recognising them as the citizens of India, their citizenship of a foreign nation notwithstanding.
Those Indian citizens who choose to acquire citizenship of any of these countries at a later date have also been covered. In September, 2004, the Union Government changed the name of the Ministry of Non Resident Indians Affairs (Anivasi Bhartiya Karya Mantralaya) to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (Pravasi Bhartiya Karya Mantralaya).
Advantages & Disadvantages Of Dual Citizenship
A person with dual citizenship is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Dual citizenship, sometimes called dual nationality, happens automatically in some situations, such as when a child is born to parents in the United States to foreign parents. In this case, the child—unless the parents are foreign diplomats—generally becomes a citizen of the U.S. as well as of the parents’ home nation. Similarly, if a child of U.S. citizens is born overseas, he or she may automatically become a citizen of both the U.S. and the country of birth, depending on that country’s laws.
Dual citizenship can also be achieved through specialized legal processes, such as when a foreign national marries a U.S. citizen. In this case, dual citizenship is not automatic but is possible if the foreign national has been a permanent resident (a green card holder) for at least three years, has been living in marital union with U.S. citizen spouse during that time and meets other eligibility requirements.
While the U.S. allows dual citizenship without necessarily promoting it, not all countries do. In the above example, the foreign national’s home country may allow dual citizenship, or it may cancel the person’s citizenship when he or she becomes naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Dual citizenship is complex. Read on for the benefits and obligations of being a citizen of two countries.
The Advantages of Dual
Benefits and privileges. Dual citizens can receive the benefits and privileges offered by each country. For example, they have access to two social service systems, can vote in either country and may be able to run for office in either country, depending on the law. They are also allowed to work in either country without needing a work permit or visa and can attend school in either country at the citizen tuition rate.
Two passports. As a dual citizen, you are allowed to carry passports from both countries. For example, if you are a U.S. citizen and also a citizen of New Zealand, you can travel more easily between the two countries; having a citizen’s passport eliminates the need for long-stay visas and questioning about the purpose of your trip. It also guarantees right of entry to both countries, which can be especially important if you have family to visit, are a student or do business in either country.
Property ownership. Another benefit of dual citizenship is the ability to own property in either country. Some countries restrict land ownership to citizens only, and as a legal citizen of two countries, you would be able to purchase property in either—or both—countries. If you travel frequently between the two countries, this might be especially useful since property ownership might offer a more economical way to live in two places.
As a dual citizen you’ll reap the benefits of being immersed in the culture of two countries. Some government officials are also fond of dual citizenship and see it as a way to promote the country’s image and a prime destination for tourists. Perhaps the best upside is self-satisfaction of learning about the history of both countries, a new language and way of life.
Dual obligations. As a dual citizen, you are bound by the laws of both countries. For example, If you are a citizen of the U.S. and a country with mandatory military service, you can lose your U.S. citizenship under certain circumstances, such as if you serve as an officer in a foreign military that is engaged in a war against the U.S. In general, U.S. policy recognizes that dual citizens might be legally obligated to fulfill military obligations abroad, and many can do so without jeopardizing their U.S. citizen status, but it is important to research each situation carefully.
Double taxation. The U.S. imposes taxes on its citizens for income earned anywhere in the world. If you are a dual citizen living abroad, you might owe taxes both to the U.S. and to the country where the income was earned. Income tax treaties are in effect, however, between the U.S. and many other countries that reduce or eliminate a U.S. citizen’s tax liability in the U.S.. A treaty between the U.S. and New Zealand, for example, overrides the income tax laws of each country to avoid double taxation. Even so, dual citizens may be required to file U.S. tax returns. Because tax laws are complicated and can change from year to year, be sure to consult with a qualified tax accountant.
Security clearance. Depending on your career path, dual citizenship can be a disadvantage. If you are seeking a position with the U.S government or access to classified information, having dual citizenship can prevent you from gaining the security clearance you need to work in these fields. Those born into dual citizenship may encounter fewer problems than those who actively sought it out.
Complicated process. Sometimes dual citizenship happens automatically, as is the case when a child is born in the U.S. to foreign parents. Other times, however, the process can take many years and can be extremely expensive. To become a U.S. citizen, you must live in the U.S. as a permanent resident continuously for five years (or three years if you are married to and living with the same U.S. citizen), and you must pay $1,070 to apply for permanent residency and then another $680 to file an application for citizenship. That does not include the cost of an immigration lawyer, a professional who can be helpful in achieving citizenship.
The Bottom Line
Dual citizens enjoy certain benefits, such as
- The ability to live and work freely in two countries,
- Own property in both, and
- Travel between the countries with relative ease.
There are drawbacks, however, including the potential for
- Double taxation,
- The long and expensive process for obtaining dual citizenship, and
- The fact that you become bound by the laws of two nations.
Because dual citizenship is complex and the rules and laws regarding citizenship vary from one country to the next, be sure to consult with qualified experts, including tax accountants and experienced citizenship lawyers.