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Home > Know Your Rights > Right to Citizenship
FAQ's | Landmark Judgements | Legal Frameworks

FAQ's

Q1.  What is meant by the right to citizenship?

A1.  Right to citizenship is the right to hold the citizenship of India available only to its residents. The Indian citizenship and nationality law and the Constitution of Indiaprovides single citizenship for the entire country. The Indian nationality law follows the jus sanguine(citizenship by right of blood) as opposed to the jus soli(citizenship by right of birth within the territory). This means that a child born to Indian parents will be entitled to get the citizenship of India irrespective of the country in which he is born.

 

Q2.  Citizenship of India is conferred automatically on birth, or can it be acquired?

A2.  Citizenship of India can be acquired also by any person willing to be a citizen of India, provided he fulfills the criteria laid down by the Government. There are basically five methods by which a person can become a citizen of India.

 

1.  Citizenship by Birth 

2.  Citizenship by Descent

3.  Citizenship by Registration

4.  Citizenship by Naturalization

5.  Citizenship at the commencement of the constitution of India

 

Q3.  What is meant by being a citizen of India by birth?

A3.  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. This citizenship is automatically conferred on children born in India to Indian parents.

 

Q4.  What is meant by being a citizen of India by descent?

A4.  Citizenship by descent applies to those children who are born outside the territory of India to Indian parents. 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. Person born outside India on or after 10 December 1992 are considered as citizens of India if either of their parents is a citizen of India at the time of their birth. However, from 3 December 2004 onwards, persons born outside India are not considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year. The application for registration of the birth of a minor child must be made to an Indian consulate and must be accompanied by an undertaking in writing from the parents of such minor child that he or she does not hold the passport of another country.

 

Q5.  What is meant by acquiring citizenship of India by registration?

A5.  A person can be registered as a citizen of India on making an application to the Government under the Citizenship Act 1955 if he belongs to any of the following categories:

 

  • a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making application under section 5(1)(a).
  • 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.

 

Q6.  What is meant by acquiring citizenship of India by naturalization?

A6.   Citizenship of India by naturalization can be acquired by a foreigner who has resided in India for twelve years. The applicant must have lived a total of 12 years in India in a period of 14 years, and must have lived in India for 12 months uninterrupted prior to applying for citizenship. Mother Teresa was a naturalized citizen of India.

 

Q7.  How can citizenship be acquired at the commencement of the constitution of India

A7.  Persons domiciled in the territory of India as on 26 November 1949 automatically became Indian citizens by virtue of operation of the relevant provisions of the Indian Constitution coming into force. The Constitution of India also made provisions regarding citizenship for migrants from territories of Pakistan, which were earlier parts of India before the partition. They acquired citizenship of India under the Constitution of India.

 

Q8.  Can the citizenship of India be renunciated and how?

A8.  A person can renounce or leave the citizenship of India if he wants by declaring to the Government that he no longer wants to remain a citizen of India. If an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, he loses Indian citizenship. In addition any minor child of that person also loses Indian citizenship from the date of renunciation. When the child reaches the age of eighteen, he has the right to resume Indian citizenship.

 

Q9.  Can the citizenship be automatically terminated?

A9.  Yes, citizenship of India gets automatically terminated when a person acquires the citizenship of any other country. Any citizen of India who by naturalisation or registration acquires the citizenship of another country shall cease to be a citizen of India. Notably, the termination provision differs from the renunciation provision because it applies to "any citizen of India" and is not restricted to adults. Indian children therefore also automatically lose their claim to Indian citizenship if at any time after birth they acquire a citizenship of another country by, for example, naturalisation or registration — even if the acquisition of another citizenship was done as a result of actions by the child's parents.The acquisition of another country's passport is also deemed to be voluntary acquisition of another country’s nationality and sufficient ground for termination of Indian citizenship.

 

Q10.  Can the citizens of India acquire dual citizenship that is citizenship of any other country?

A10.  The Constitution of India forbids dual citizenship or dual nationality, except for minors where the second nationality was involuntarily acquired. For such persons, India confers the status of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI). It is not a full citizenship of India, but gives the people of Indian origin residing in other countries certain relaxations in visa rules and other benefits so as to maintain their ties with India.

 
 
 
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