Dual citizenship issue had been haunting to Goans for more than a decade as with the new developments in the foreign policies there is a possibility of losing the citizenship of India but, when the OCI scheme was introduced by the Ministry of External Affairs, many Goans, who held dual citizenship of India and Portugal, were asked to choose between either country. However, for many who have opted for the OCI, their advantages in their home country remain intact
In 2005, giving in to demands for dual citizenship particularly from those Indians residing in the USA and other developed countries the Ministry of External Affairs had introduced the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Scheme by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 in August 2005.
According to The Economic Times report in 2016, the Union Home Ministry had accepted the recommendations of a committee to review all such cases at the Centre or State level. This move impacted more than two lakh citizens of Goa who were issued a ‘Bill of Identity’ by the Portuguese authorities. This Bill not only allows them to travel to Portugal and other European Union (EU) countries without a visa, but it also entitles them to invest in properties and obtain a passport of any other EU Nation.
With the MEA announcement of the OCI scheme, it meant that those who enjoyed dual citizenship would have to relinquish the ‘Bill of identity’ issued by Portugal’s Central Registry. These Goans were now asked to make a choice between Goa and Portugal. Also, those citizens whose names were registered with the Central Registry in Lisbon were considered as citizens of Portugal. Hence technically they had forfeited their Indian citizenship as per provision of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
The number Goans applying for Portuguese Passports significantly increased after 1986 when Portugal joined the EU. Under Portuguese law, those born in their colonies, including Daman and Diu, and their descendants are eligible for Portuguese passports.
However, a Goan businessman in the travel industry, according to an article published in Gulf News India, advises how by becoming an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholder, Goans with such dual citizenships can overcome this government directive to choose between either Portugal or Goa.
“Since the Constitution of India does not allow dual citizenship, it is advisable that those Goans who have registered themselves to become Portuguese nationals should immediately apply for an OCI status, which is like a life-long visa in India,” he stated adding that as an OCI holder one can enjoy the advantage of living and working as other Indians do, but as foreign nationals they cannot vote or enjoy government benefits. But this way their stay can be regulated in India.
The pursuit of a Portuguese passport stems from the fact that it opens up a wealth of job and business opportunities for Goans in Europe, the UK, and the US.