Global ResidencySecond PassportsDual Citizenship in India - Is there a System of? The Fine Print

February 15, 2024by Georgea Rios0

Is there a System of Dual Citizenship in India – The Fine Print

In the era of globalization, the concept of dual citizenship has gained significant interest among people who wish to enjoy the benefits of belonging to more than one country. For Indians living abroad seeking a stronger passport understanding the nuances of dual citizenship in India is crucial. This article delves into the Indian government’s stance on dual citizenship, examines the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, and explores citizenship by investment and golden visa programs as alternatives.

dual citizenship india

India’s Position on Dual Citizenship

The Indian Constitution does not recognise dual citizenship in the way many other countries do. The legal framework in India mandates singular loyalty to the country, preventing Indian citizens from holding citizenship of another country simultaneously. This policy reflects India’s approach to ensuring that its citizens’ allegiances are not divided, which has implications for Indians residing overseas and foreigners seeking a formal bond with India.

dual citizenship india

The Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card: A Quasi-Dual Citizenship?

In response to the growing diaspora’s needs and to facilitate lifelong connections with India, the Indian government introduced the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. While not dual citizenship in the traditional sense, the OCI card offers a comprehensive range of privileges that closely mirror the rights of Indian citizens. These include the ability to travel to India without a visa, the right to live, work, and study in India indefinitely, and the option to purchase property (excluding agricultural land). However, OCI cardholders do not have the right to vote, run for public office, or hold government jobs, distinguishing them from full citizens.

The OCI program highlights India’s commitment to its global community, allowing individuals of Indian origin to maintain a connection with their homeland without the full legal status of citizenship.

Citizenship By Investment Programs For Indian Nationals

  • While Indian nationals are eligible and can benefit from citizenship by investment programs, they should consider the implications regarding their Indian citizenship and explore options like the OCI card to maintain ties with India.
  • Renouncing Indian citizenship involves trade-offs, affecting access to healthcare, education, work rights, and visitation to India.
  • Individuals need to consider these implications along with their ties and interests in both their home country and the potential host nation.
  • For Indian nationals who can’t easily obtain citizenship in their country of residence pursuing a second passport through Caribbean citizenship by investment programs can greatly enhance one’s global mobility.
  • In the likes of St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Antigua & Barbuda investors can make a contribution of just $100,000 USD to the relevant government fund in exchange for citizenship while those who prefer real estate can secure their citizenship with an investment from just $200,000 depending on the program.

Renouncing Citizenship – when is it really worth it?

Indian citizens living outside of the country may wish to explore Citizenship By Investment programs for a number of reasons. For example, Indian nationals live abroad in countries where obtaining citizenship can be challenging,

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) serves as a prime example. Despite the UAE being home to a large expatriate community, including a significant number of Indians, the country’s citizenship laws are highly restrictive. Traditionally, the UAE does not grant citizenship to expatriates, regardless of how long they have lived in the country. While recent legal amendments have introduced certain pathways for expatriates to acquire UAE citizenship, these are limited to specific categories such as investors, professionals, and individuals with special talents, and come with stringent eligibility criteria.

This scenario makes citizenship by investment programs in the Caribbean an appealing option for Indian nationals seeking the benefits of a second passport. The contrast in visa-free access between an Indian passport and a passport from a Caribbean nation like St. Lucia is notable. A St. Lucia passport offers visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to over 145 countries, including major destinations like the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong, significantly enhancing global mobility compared to the Indian passport, which provides similar access to around 58 countries.

For Indian nationals who can’t easily obtain citizenship in their country of residence, such as the UAE, pursuing a second passport through Caribbean citizenship by investment programs not only broadens their travel possibilities but also opens up new avenues for economic and personal freedom.

dual citizenship india

Golden Visa Programs: Residency as a Stepping Stone

For those who prefer not to navigate the complexities of dual citizenship, golden visa programs offer a compelling alternative. Countries like Portugal, Greece, Latvia, Hungary and Spain provide residency rights through investment, with flexible pathways to PR and the potential for eventual citizenship. These programs are especially popular among Indian investors seeking global mobility and the benefits of European residency.

The Portugal Golden Visa has been a particularly popular option in recent years, with Indian citizens in the top five nationalities to acquire the golden visa since the program’s inception. Investors can qualify for residency in Portugal with an investment of 500,000 EUR into eligible Private Equity Venture Capital Funds and after 5 years apply for citizenship (Investors must spend just 7 days per year in the country).

That said, after Portugal removed its real estate option last year, the Greek Golden Visa is now gaining traction in the Indian market as the best golden visa option for real estate investors. While Greece increased its minimum investment requirement to 500k in Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini property 90% of Greece’s municipalities remain eligible at the 250k threshold.

However, this may not last for long since the Greek government has announced plans to increase the minimum investment threshold to 800,000 EUR in major cities and 500,000 EUR elsewhere in the country. Investors interested will either need to act soon or keep an eye out for the industry’s next opportunity in the Hungarian Golden Visa. For budget-conscious investors the Latvia Golden Visa program with its 50,000 EUR capital shareholder investment is also a worthwhile consideration.

Outside of Europe, the UAE Golden Visa is a great option for those looking to acquire residency in Dubai and recent developments mean that there is no longer a minimum downpayment required for investors meaning that the minimum investment of 2,000,000 AED can be financed with a mortgage or paid installments (new developments).


While India does not offer dual citizenship in the traditional sense, the OCI card and various global Citizenship By Investment and Golden Visa programs provide valuable alternatives for those looking to maintain ties with India or expand their global footprint. Given the legal constraints on dual citizenship in India, many Indians and foreign investors turn to golden visa programs that represent a strategic pathway to achieve dual citizenship, albeit indirectly. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, these options offer a blend of flexibility, opportunity, and connection to heritage, underlining the evolving nature of citizenship in the 21st century.

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Georgea Rios

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