The state government has invited applications and objections from Goans who have acquired Portuguese nationality or registered their births in Portugal for their recommendations which will be submitted to the Union government.
Citizens who have objections are given a period of three months to file their objections. The feedback will assist administrators to inquire into the acquisition of citizenship of another country by residents who have acquired Portuguese nationality or registered their births in Portugal.
After the hearing, the district collectors of North and South Goa will make recommendations and give details of each case to the Central government, specifically, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in accordance with the procedure specified in schedule III of the rules.
On December 31, 1974 India and Portugal restored diplomatic relations and signed a Treaty to recognize India’s sovereignty over Goa, Daman, and Diu, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli.
The Portuguese Nationality Law of 1975 provides that Goans, born before December 20, 1961, up to the third generation, are entitled to Portuguese citizenship if they opt for it. Many Goans seeking employment abroad found that a Portuguese passport would provide them easy access to the more affluent European countries.
The Government of India formulated the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Scheme and the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Scheme for the benefit of persons of Indian origin who hold foreign nationality. The PIO card was issued to Indians who have been staying abroad for a couple of generations while the OCI card was granted to more recent emigrants.
The validity of the PIO card was fifteen years whilst the OCI card is for life. There are some other benefits that the OCI enjoys which were not available to PIO cardholders.
In 2011, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced that the OCI and PIO cards would be merged. Thereafter, the Ministry of Home Affairs introduced in Parliament the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2011 to merge the OCI and PIO cards and to create the “Overseas Indian Cardholder Scheme”.
The Overseas Indian Cardholder is granted a lifelong visa to India, exemption from registration at the FRO for any length of time of stay in India, and parity with resident Indians in financial, economic, and educational matters except those relating to the acquisition of agricultural property.
According to the reports, more than 2 lakhs of citizens of Goa are issued a ‘Bill of identity’ by the Portuguese authority. A ‘bill of identity’ not only allows them to travel to Portugal and other European Union (EU) countries without a visa, it also entitles them to invest in properties and obtain a passport of any other EU nation.
The number of Goans applying for Portuguese citizenship swelled significantly after 1986 when Portugal became a member of the EU.
Claiming Portuguese citizenship is the preferred means for those wishing to migrate to Europe, especially to the UK, as a Portuguese passport helps those migrating to work without the need for going through the cumbersome process of applying for a work visa.