Read the Small Print on Indian Overseas Citizenship Offer, Warns British Immigration NGO

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Hundreds of people of Indian origin could jeopardise their claim to British citizenship if they rush to take advantage of the Indian GovernmentÂ?s latest offer of Overseas citizenship.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants welcomes the Indian Government’s recent offer of overseas citizenship to emigrants who left India after 1950 -- but warns that the small print in British law means taking it up could affect the ability to acquire British citizenship at a later date.

JCWI advises any British Overseas citizen, British Subject or British Protected Person who wishes to register as a full British citizen, to delay in applying for Overseas Citizenship of India until they have successfully acquired a full British citizen passport.

On 16 June 2005, the Indian Government decided to offer Overseas Citizenship of India to all Indians who migrated from their country after 26 January 1950 as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship under their law. Acquisition is by application only.

However the Home Office’s position is that acquiring Overseas Citizenship of India will extinguish a British Overseas citizen, British subject or British protected person’s entitlement to register as British citizen.

This is because the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 granted British Overseas Citizens, British Subjects and British Protected Persons the right to register as full British citizens providing they have no other citizenship or nationality and have not since 4 July 2002 renounced, voluntarily relinquished or lost through action or inaction any other citizenship or nationality.

Therefore it is a requirement that a British Overseas Citizen, British Subject or a British Protected Person must possess no other citizenship or nationality to qualify for registration as a British citizen, and this will include Overseas Citizenship of India.

JCWI Chief Executive Habib Rahman said:

"We welcome the Government of India’s grant of Overseas Citizenship of India to all persons of Indian origin who apply for, and are eligible to be granted it. However anyone who applies should understand that it could adversely affect their claim to British citizenship at a later date. Expert advice is recommended before proceeding.”

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Tauhid Pasha

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