In an era of increasing globalization and interconnectedness, the concept of dual citizenship has become a topic of significant interest and debate. This legal status allows individuals to hold the citizenship of two countries simultaneously, granting them certain privileges and responsibilities in both nations. In India, discussions surrounding dual citizenship have been nuanced and have led to diverse perspectives on the matter.
India’s Perspective on Dual Citizenship
India, as a sovereign nation, currently does not recognise dual citizenship. The Indian Constitution does not permit individuals to hold citizenship in more than one country at the same time. This principle stems from the belief that an individual should have undivided loyalty to their country of citizenship, and any conflicting allegiances could potentially compromise national security and interests.
Overseas Citizens of India (OCI)
While India does not provide for dual citizenship, it offers a status known as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). The OCI status is available to foreign nationals of Indian origin, allowing them certain privileges like multiple-entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India, exemption from registration with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in the country, and the ability to own property in India.
Global Preferences for Dual Citizenship
Given the dynamic nature of today’s world, many individuals find dual citizenship to be a favourable option. This is especially true for the Indian diaspora, who may seek to maintain a strong connection to their ancestral homeland while enjoying the benefits of citizenship in their country of residence. Caribbean nations, in particular, have emerged as attractive options for individuals looking to obtain a second citizenship.
“With so many uncertainties in today’s world, having a robust ‘Plan B’ is important for any family or entrepreneur. Having survived the pandemic, we are now seeing armed conflict between major powers, and the potential breakdown of the global economic system as we know it. Globalization is being replaced by regional blocs and it certainly pays to keep doors open in different parts of the world with multiple citizenships or residencies, as well as equivalents such as OCI status,” says Nicholas Stevens, CEO of NTL Trust, a major business and investment immigration consultancy that is accustomed to dealing with Indian families.
The Appeal of Caribbean Citizenship
The statistics speak volumes. Over the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the number of Indians pursuing dual citizenship in Caribbean nations. According to recent reports, countries like Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, and Grenada have witnessed a significant uptick in applications for their Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs. This trend is not limited to high-net-worth individuals, as professionals, entrepreneurs, and families alike are exploring these opportunities.
Factors Driving the Trend
The Role of Citizenship by Investment Programs
Caribbean nations have strategically leveraged their geographic location and natural resources to create Citizenship by Investment programs. These initiatives allow foreign nationals to acquire citizenship by making significant investments in the country, typically through real estate purchases, contributions to government funds, or investment in approved sectors.
While India does not currently endorse dual citizenship, it has acknowledged the importance of maintaining strong ties with its vast diaspora through the OCI status. Meanwhile, Caribbean nations and other countries with CBI programs have recognised the advantages of providing a legal pathway for individuals seeking to acquire dual citizenship.