Horror of Dual Citizenship with India (OCI)

Horror of Dual Citizenship with India (OCI)

This is why it is very important to carry your old passport that has the visa stamp in it !!!
Or better still have the visa stamp transferred to your new passport at the Indian consulate with a nominal fee.
Horror of Dual Citizenship with India (OCI)
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 US 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 (lifelong) visa for India and there are proofs that I have travelled multiple times to India after I had received my OCI card.

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 even arrived.

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.
Otherwise, 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 a 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 confiscated new US passport had not arrived back 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 US passport. They only promised: “it will come soon”.
At last, 12 days after my arrival, my niece got my US passport so that I could travel back to the US.

From this painful and anxiety provoking experience I have learned a few valuable lessons.
1. The loud talk about “Dual Citizenship” for Indian Americans is just a political hoax.

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 “lifelong” visa. A 10-year visa is much cheaper.

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 substitute.

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 Anaesthesiology, University of Michigan

4 Responses

  1. If you are a Police Officer or other civil servant BEWARE! I had my mother’s and brother’s applications granted however I had mine refused due to the fact “I am employed in a diplomatic post” now I dont know any officers that could be considered to be such!! I have asked for the reason for refusal in writing, I have had it via email and phone….waiting for a written letter clearly stating it. I enquired what the position would be if I retired / left the Police and I was informed that I would NEVER, thats right! NEVER EVER EVER EVER going get OCI status at anytime now or in the future. Now I am quite astonished by this as I know officers who hold the OCI, when I pointed this out I was asked to provide their details so their OCI could be revoked!!! What the hell is going on? do they think a few bobbies are gonna overthrow the government or something?? Nowhere do I see or have I read this ‘exemption’ for Police officers. I asked what I could do next, I was with some sarcasm that I could “Apply to the Indian government directly” I am considering my non-existant options….and to think I was proud of my Indian heritage and culture. Btw. I waited for 10 weeks for the refusal.


  2. the difference between an OCI and a ten year visa is that you can come and go as you like whereas with a 10 year visa there were and probably still are restrictions as you cant re renter India unless there is a gap of a month or two ( this was thanks to David Headley!)


  3. The OCI rules clearly dictate that you ARE NOT acquiring a dual nationality… you do not have the right to vote nor the right to own agricultural property (which are only extended to full citizens on India). What you basically get is ‘permanent residency’ which is tantamount to a ‘green card’ when you immigrate to the USA. Under this program, you are required to have the passport containing your Universal (U) lifetime visa along with your OCI card at all times and are free to enter and stay in India as often as you would like and for however long you would like. Take care and read all of the details to realize that you aren’t and never were a citizen of India upon receipt of an OCI.


  4. Life is unfair Doctor and trust me you went to Kolkata , speaking from the same profession I have to agree with you that a Gora has more rights in India merely be being Gora……actually not quite true , it is only like that in certain states ie Bengal , Tamil Naidu and Kerala ..most other places are pretty nice . Its just these states see themselves as different and superior –a remnant of colonial times and history ..Sadly its the way a lot of people in India are ..hence our occupation for 1400 years …..in the future I wish you well but come via Delhi , Bangalore , Ahmedabad , Mumbai ..they are better and they all speak Hindi , English , and don’t pretend not to understand ..aka Kolkata , Chennai and Trivandarum……Aap Buzurg hain , apna khayal rakhyega


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