Persons domiciled in the territory of India as of 26 November 1949 automatically became Indian citizens by virtue of the operation of the relevant provisions of the Indian Constitution coming into force, and most of these constitutional provisions came into force on 26 January 1950.
The Constitution of India also made provisions regarding citizenship for migrants from the territories of Pakistan which had been part of India before partition.
Citizenship by birth
Any person born in India on or after 26 January 1950, but prior to the commencement of the 1986 Act on 1 July 1987, is a citizen of India by birth. A person born in India on or after 1 July 1987 is a citizen of India if either parent was a citizen of India at the time of the birth.
Those born in India on or after 3 December 2004 are considered citizens of India only if both of their parents are citizens of India or if one parent is a citizen of India and the other is not an illegal migrant at the time of their birth.
Citizenship by descent
Persons born outside India on or after 26 January 1950 but before 10 December 1992 are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth. Persons born outside India on or after 10 December 1992 are considered citizens of India if either of their parents is a citizen of India at the time of their birth.
From 3 December 2004 onwards, persons born outside of India shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian diplomatic mission within one year of the date of birth.
Citizenship by registration
The Central Government may, on an application, register as a citizen of India under section 5 of the Citizenship Act 1955 any person (not being an illegal migrant) if she belongs to any of the following categories:
- a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application under Section 5 (1) (a) (throughout the period of twelve months immediately before making application and for six years in the aggregate in the eight years preceding the 12 months).
- a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India;
- a person who is married to a citizen of India and is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration;
- minor children of persons who are citizens of India;
- a person of full age and capacity whose parents are registered as citizens of India.
- a person of full age and capacity who, or either of his parents, was earlier citizen of independent India, and has been residing in India for one year immediately before making an application for registration;
- a person of full age and capacity who has been registered as an overseas citizen of India for five years, and who has been residing in India for one year before making an application for registration.
Citizenship of India by naturalization can be acquired by a foreigner (not illegal migrant) who is ordinarily resident in India for 12 years (throughout the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of application and for 11 years in the aggregate in the 14 years preceding the 12 months) and other qualifications as specified in Third Schedule to the Citizen Act.
Overseas Citizenship of India
The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) scheme was introduced by amending The Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005. The scheme was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention in Hyderabad in 2006.
Indian authorities have interpreted the law to mean a person cannot have a second country’s passport simultaneously with an Indian one even in the case of a child who is claimed by another country as a citizen of that country, and who may be required by the laws of the other country to use one of its passports for foreign travel (such as a child born in the United States or in Australia to Indian parents), and the Indian courts have given the executive branch wide discretion over this matter.
Therefore, Overseas Citizenship of India is not an actual citizenship of India thus does not amount to dual citizenship or dual nationality or anyone no longer to use Indian IDs after OCI. Moreover, the OCI card is not a substitute for an Indian visa and therefore, the passport which displays the lifetime visa must be carried by OCI holders while traveling to India.