I have spent the better part of the summer trying to get all of my required documentation together to be able to apply for a tourist travel Visa to India in anticipation of returning to India in December of 2016.
Back in 2011 or 2012 I began looking into applying for a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card which the Indian Government no longer issues. They now issue an OCI or Overseas Citizen of India card. The OCI is essentially a green card and allows individuals who have once held Indian citizenship to regain some of the rights afforded by Indian citizenship without having to become one again. For example an OCI card holder may own some property, travel to and from India without requesting additional Visas, etc. After college I was considering moving to India and felt it would be easier to move there with a PIO or OCI.
I ended up not applying for a PIO or OCI and instead didn’t even go to India at all. This past summer as I have begun exploring a return to India again I opted not to apply for an OCI because I don’t really have plans of living in India and the OCI seemed more daunting because it requires proof that I have renounced my Indian citizenship which is required for Indian citizens who have acquired foreign citizenship status. I suspected, and it was later confirmed, that my parents never filed the paper work to renounce my Indian citizenship so technically speaking I never formally renounced Indian citizenship even though by default of being naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1992 I had given up my Indian citizenship.
To my dismay as I completed and submitted my India travel visa forms they, too, required a renunciation certificate be included with the application for anyone claiming to have held an Indian passport and seeking to re-enter the country. Since I did not have a renunciation certificate I opted to send them an incomplete application, which as I am sure you have already guessed was a poor decision, but to include my original India passport. My hope was that they would just stamp it with a good ole’ renunciation certificate and consider it a done deal.
Visas and consulates are not to be fucked with. They ended up putting my visa application on hold while they waited for me to fill out all of the renunciation paperwork and send it to them. After a few rounds of doing that incorrectly and FedExing the consulate a bunch of additional documentation the renunciation portion of my application was approved.
After 25 years I am officially no longer an Indian citizen. It feels weird giving up something I never really knew I had. It also is strange to think about myself as an India citizen since I really have never given myself the liberty to think about myself with that level of official connection to India.
Now I am just waiting on my visa application to be processed. I did a really good job of submitting expired documents as well as an incomplete application so I have had to send numerous additional pieces of information as well as gotten the opportunity to talk with consulate staff on multiple occasions.
Current Return Trip Status – Pending issue of India tourist visa.