Indian Government Backs Down Over Passport Surrender Rule, But Will the New Guidance Lead to Further Confusion?

As a result of pressure from the overseas Indian, the Indian government has backed down. Here is the latest guidance from the Indian Consulate in New York website,

In supersession of the rules regarding Surrender/Renunciation Certificate the Government of India have decided as follows:-

Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) who have already acquired foreign citizenship voluntarily till May 31, 2010 shall cease to be Indian citizens upon their acquiring foreign citizenship. However, such persons are required to surrender their Indian passports, whether valid or expired, to the Indian Consulate so that the passport is not misused. Such persons are not required to pay any fee under the Citizenship Act. They will have to pay US$ 20/- for Surrender/Cancellation of the passports.

Those Indian citizens, who intend to acquire foreign citizenship on or after 1st June 2010 will have to submit a declaration of renunciation of their Indian citizenship with payment of US$ 175/- as per fee structure under Rule 23 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009.

The issue of refund of any part of renunciation fee already paid by applicants till 31 May 2010, if applicable, has been taken up with the Government of India. The decision when received will be uniformly applied to those concerned and the information will be put on our website when available. Meanwhile no email/phone queries will be entertained.”

The first point is consistent with what I wrote in my prior blog. One ceases to be an Indian citizen upon taking up the citizenship of another country under Section 9 of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. A policy requiring renunciation after one automatically ceased to be an Indian citizen made no sense, and then retroactively penalizing the individual for failing to renounce Indian citizen was extremely unfair. On the other hand, those who have taken up US citizenship or a citizenship of another country will still need to surrender their passports, albeit for a lesser fee. This will still result in hardship if the person who got US citizenship decades ago has lost the Indian passport.

It is the second point in the new policy that is most puzzling. It says that those who intend to take up the citizenship of another country after June 1, 2010 must first submit a declaration of renunciation of citizenship under under Rule 23 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009, which stem from Section 8 of the Citizenship Act. Section 8 provides that a citizen of India may renounce Indian citizenship. Rule 23 is reproduced below:

23. Declaration of renunciation of citizenship.- (1) A declaration of renunciation of citizenship of India under sub-section (1) of section 8 shall be made in Form XXII, and shall state-
(a) under which provisions of law, the applicant is an Indian citizen; and
(b) the circumstances in which the applicant intends to acquire foreign citizenship.
(2) On receipt of the declaration of renunciation of citizenship of India under sub-rule (1), an acknowledgement in Form XXIII shall be issued by an officer designated under rule 38.
(3) The declaration shall be registered in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
(4) The Central Government in the Ministry of Home Affairs shall maintain a register in Form XXIV containing the names of persons whose declaration of renunciation of citizenship are registered under this rule.

Rule 23 requires an Indian citizen to renounce Indian citizenship while intending to take up the citzienship of another country, and not after s/he becomes a citizen of another country. How will this play out? What if the US citizenship does not pan out for some reason or is delayed? It quite often happens that one may not become a US citizen, as expected, if a security check has not cleared or if additional evidence is requested. US citizenship may also be denied if an Indian disrupted continuity of residence by spending more than 180 days outside the US during the qualifying 5 year or 3 year period, and is unable to rebut the prsumption of abandonment. Will this person become stateless between the renunciation and the acquistion of the new citizenship? Will this person be deprived of using his or her Indian passport for travel during this period? What if the renuncation has been effectuated and the person is never granted US citizenshp? Strangely, the new policy has been differently announced on the Indian Consulate’s website in San Francisco, which does not incorporate the second point, So what is the correct new policy?

I applaud the Indian government for backing down and eliminating the potential hardship the prior misguided policy would have caused to thousands of overseas Indians who had become US citizens several years ago. Yet, the fact that people may have to surrender lost passports of many years, even decades ago, will still cause hardship. On the other hand, the new policy of requiring renunciation prior to an Indian becoming a citizen of the US or another country, if this is the case, requires immediate clarification as it will cause even more hardship and uncertainty than the withdrawn policy.

Update – 6/3/10

Since the publication of this post, the Indian Consulate in New York has added the following sentence after the first two points in its new guidance: “They may fill the Form and either send it by mail or bring personally to the Consulate. “A perusal through the form suggests that a person is required to renounce Indian citizenship after acquring the citizenship of the US or another country and not before. Thus, it does not seem that one has to renounce Indian citizenship before acquiring the ciitzenship of another country, and the second point in the new guidance is inartfully drafted on the website of the Indian consulate in New York. Although I still question how one can renounce Indian citizenship when it has ceased to exist (although it is perfectly justified to require the surrender of the Indian passport), it is at least better than requiring someone to renounce Indian citizenship before he or she acquires the citizenship of another country.

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22 replies
  1. Anonymous says:

    What about a person born in India of both Indian and US citizenship? I.e. US passport says born in India, but person was born as both US and Indian citizen, never held an Indian passport, never naturalized. Would there be a problem going through immigration at the airport?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am still puzzled by the various and conflicting posts all over the net. I became U.S citizen some 35 years ago and currently have a ten years Indian Visa on my U.S passport which was issued in year 2005. I don't remember whether I trashed the old Indian passport or surrendered it 35 years ago or have lost it . Questions are:1) Do I still need surrender certificate ? 2) If yes what form to fill out ?3) Would there be a problem if I travel to India without getting a surrender certificate since I do have a valid Visa ?
    Will appreciate the answers. Thanks

  3. Cyrus D. Mehta & Associates, PLLC says:

    The guidance has changed since the blog was posted. The latest on the Indian Consulate, New York, website is available here,

    It says that one needs to still submit an old passport for cancellation, and there is no requirement for a surrender certificate for those who became citizens of other countries on or prior to May 31, 2010.

    Those who acquire citizenship on June 1, 2010 onwards must surrender their passports, renounce Indian citizenship and obtain a surrender certificate within 90 days. I still fail to understand why one has to renounce citizenship when it has automatically terminated under Section 9 of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955.

  4. Anonymous says:

    "Yet, the fact that people may have to surrender lost passports of many years, even decades ago, will still cause hardship."

    The above sentence has been copied and pasted from the comments above. Can someone please explain as to how can any one surrender a LOST passport. Are we supposed to get a replacement from some authority and then surrender it ?? I am waiting for a sensible answer !!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cyrus and others,
    Could you please comment on the issue that from May 5th to May 31st, there were so many people who either by fear/force/fate, followed the process and paid atleast $175 per person if not hefty penalites and all of a sudden they changed rule to reduce that fee to mere $20/- … And shame is that they don't care to refund it… It's been 2 weeks and no updates on that issue.. I hope you have some insight…

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  7. Tara says:

    I became a us citizen 15 years ago, no idea where Question. I got US passport 15 years ago and have misplaced my old Indian passport. I'm going to India in 10 days on my valid 10 year visa and I believe I don't need a renunciation certificate, as per latest guidelines— BUT what happens when I apply for OCI card? Can I apply for OCI will copy of the new stamp they will put in my US passport saying my old indian passport is cancelled or do I still need to get the renunciation certificate with police document and certification, etc. Should I carry any documents with me when I enter India?
    Thanks, Sameera

  8. Tara says:

    I became a us citizen 15 years ago and have misplaced my old Indian passport. I'm going to India in 10 days on my valid 10 year visa and I believe I don't need a renunciation certificate, as per latest guidelines— BUT what happens when I apply for OCI card? Can I apply for OCI will copy of the new stamp they will put in my US passport saying my old indian passport is cancelled or do I still need to get the renunciation certificate with police document and certification, etc. Should I carry any documents with me when I enter India?

  9. sri says:

    People go to abroad for better future, it doesn't mean that every one working overaseas are capabale of paying the fees indian government wants to charge. For eg. If the person was a citizen of India in the past and wish to enter India, then he/she is not eligible to apply for tourist visa. They will have to apply for "Entry Visa". Charges are double for this, which is a big, big rip off. Now passport handover fees, then OCI fees, priority processing fees, etc..

  10. unmesh says:

    The question remains: what happens if you lost your passport decades ago and simply can't submit it with or without paying the $20 fee? Are people being turned away at the gate? And as for the new "entry visa" requirement for persons of indian origin, what if you already have a valid multiple entry tourist visa? is that no longer considered valid. This is kafkaesque even by the standards of Indian bureaucracy


  11. Anonymous says:

    If fees will be refunded for those before May 31,
    then why have the same fees be retained after June 1? Doesn't make any sense. And renounce within 90 days? I guess this is the typical arrogance of the Indian gov't. If you get an OCI Card, do you still have to go for renunciation and pay $175?

  12. Anonymous says:

    I guess the fees are paid by the passport you hold. US and UK passport holders must pay through their nose. If you come from Bangladesh, Mauritius, etc., then they don't rip you off.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Guys , we crib too much. If we have to wait for 8 years to get a US Green card and another 5 years to get a US passport and all the hassle, we dont say a word. We pay every fees drive miles to get health check ups, finger prints and pay lawyers what ever it takes.

    India is attacked from all sides-china, pakistan, bangladesh, burma, nepal and srilanka. Terrorism has ruined this country as we have become too democratic, with the chalta hai.

    Any rule will have hundred guys asking for a waiver…we just dont like to be civil obedient.

    There is a point at which the security of a nation cannot be compromised for a bunch of schizoprenics who do anything in the US and who crib when it comes to India.

    It is time the Govt said NO and this is it…follow…

    Atleast there will be some civil order.

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  15. R Arora says:

    Just because people assume you make good money living abroad doesnt give the indian govt the right to charge whatever they wish. This is like having their cake and eating it too. we have no choice – and yes we are being punished for being born Indian and then choosing a better life for our family abroad because of the corrupt nature of living in India. try applying for a permit of any sort and see how many people you have to pay off—a simple task like getting a new passport means warming the hands of a local cop who comes to verify your address locally. try refusing to bribe and watch your file languish on their desk for months—yes it happened to quite a few people I know including my sister.
    so now we HAVE to pay $175 to surrender our passport-I dont care-Take it stamp it keep it. why do you want $175 + 20 plus VFS fees of $20 that's ridiculous.
    now that one renounces Indian citizenship-you continue to be penalized. you cannot get a tourist visa-you HAVE to get only an Entry visa which is double the cost! Why are we being discriminated against and no one is doing anything about it!?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dear US citizen, please stop cribbing. You agreed under oath to no longer be Indian. You don't have to be treated as one. GOI will find a way to get you cleared. Meanwhile, you can pay. Think of it as a two-way trip across the US.

  17. Chirag says:

    How can you justify the government's $175 fee for "renuouncing" your citizenship. You already did so by becoming the citizen of another country. Which other country does this?
    I became a US Citizen 10+ years back and hence applied to have my citizenship renounced with the "10 years ago clause" which allows me to pay only $25 to have my deemed surrender certificate and not the ginormous $250 fee (upto $1250 with penalties). This is simply rubbish.

    If we intend to visit India, which "most" of the people do after relinquishing citizenship (to visit family and friends, and simply for tourism), we pay for OCI/PIO/Tourist Visa. Why the added cost of Renunciation? Do they think that everyone who gives up the Indian Citizen is going to misuse the "Indian" passport??? Really??? This is the way they want to keep the "terrorists" out?

    Someone please help me see the reasoning behind this entire fee schedule.


  18. Anonymous says:

    I agree too. Laws ware written in India long time ago. We did not follow them when we become citizen of other country in time given. Now we have too pay little more, so what get it done.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I do not agree at all. I was in fact surprised to see so much irelevant points and silly arguments brought up by the writer. Not sure what 'waiver' the writer has been talking about. The point here is that the relevant act/rule is not within the framework of law, they are 'ultra-virus'. One does not need to be a lawyer to understand this. Government of India has been brazenly taking advantage of the situation where no one would perhaps be in a position to challenge the decision in a court of law. This is daylight robbery by the Government. By the way, to remind the writer, India is not in any worse position than several other countries in the world so far as border issues are concerned. It would be stupid to try to steer the discussion with melodramatic expressions. It is not for the so-called 'foreign' elements that rendered India in a pitiable state, her own countrymen are to blame. The lcorrupt politicians are the root of al the problems.

  20. ARE A EM says:

    This renunciation and other related fees are what we call "Taxation Without Representation".

    The only reason for this fee? Well, just because they can, and we can't do anything about it. The infamous Indian bureaucracy picking your pocket one last time, before you quit being their subject.


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