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Monumental Breakthrough! MEA Directive Eases OCI Application Process for Goans with Portuguese Citizenship

Monumental Breakthrough! MEA Directive Eases OCI Application Process for Goans with Portuguese Citizenship –

Goan Diaspora Rejoices Over Simplified OCI Process

In a move that has brought relief to thousands of Goans, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has issued a directive simplifying the process of obtaining Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards. The directive allows individuals from Goa and Daman & Diu, whose Indian passports were revoked after acquiring Portuguese citizenship, to obtain a “revocation order” instead of a “surrender certificate.”

“This change is a game-changer for many who were previously ineligible to apply for OCI due to stringent passport requirements,” said Maria Fernandes, a Goan expat in London. Maria Fernandes is among the thousands who can now apply for OCI cards, granting them the right to live and work in India indefinitely.

Revocation Certificate Accepted as Alternative to Surrender Certificate

The MEA memorandum, dated April 4, 2024, clarifies that the Ministry of Home Affairs will accept a “revocation certificate” as an alternative to the “surrender certificate” for Indian nationals from the former Portuguese territories in India who have acquired Portuguese nationality under Portuguese Nationality Law.

“All PIAs are hereby advised to mandatorily issue a revocation order in all such cases, wherein instead of issuing a surrender certificate, PIAs decide to revoke the passport by invoking Section 10 (3) of the Passports Act, 1967,” the memo stated.

Previous Challenges with Surrender Certificate Requirement

The earlier requirement for a surrender certificate posed significant challenges for those seeking OCI cards. Following a November 30, 2022, MEA memorandum, passports of Goans who acquired Portuguese citizenship were revoked for “suppressing material information” about their foreign nationality, resulting in the cessation of surrender certificates and making many individuals ineligible for OCI cards.

“It was a frustrating situation for many of us who had our passports revoked, but this new directive provides a solution,” said Jose Fernandes, a Goan-born Portuguese citizen residing in Canada.

Benefits of OCI Card for Goan Diaspora

The OCI card, akin to a passport, allows people of Indian origin who are foreign citizens to register as Overseas Citizens of India and grants them the right to live and work in India indefinitely. It also provides various other benefits, such as the ability to purchase non-agricultural land or property, and access to certain educational and employment opportunities.

Goa’s Chief Minister Welcomes the Move

Goa’s Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant, welcomed the decision, expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar for their role in implementing this measure.

“Great news for people of Goa. MEA has issued clarification that Revocation Certificate will also be a valid document in lieu of Surrender Certificate for obtaining OCI Card. I thank the Union Govt led by PM @narendramodi ji, Home Minister Shri @AmitShah Ji, Minister of External Affairs @DrSJaishankar ji & MEA MoS Smt @M_Lekhi for accepting the request of the State Government that would provide huge relief to thousands of Goan & their families,” Sawant said in a post on the social media platform X.

Portuguese Citizenship and Its Advantages

Under Portuguese law, individuals born in Goa before December 19, 1961, and their descendants for the next two generations, can register as Portuguese citizens. The ability to obtain a Portuguese passport offers visa-free entry to countries like the UK and EU, encouraging many Goans to pursue Portuguese citizenship for better employment and education opportunities overseas.

However, this decision led to complex situations, with individuals facing complications due to the lack of surrender certificates. The MEA’s recent directive, which allows the acceptance of the revocation certificate as a valid document, is expected to significantly ease the OCI application process, providing a smoother path for those affected.

Expert Opinion: “This directive is a welcome move that recognizes the unique circumstances faced by Goans with Portuguese citizenship,” said Dr. Riya Kamat, a legal expert on immigration and citizenship matters. “It not only resolves a contentious issue but also strengthens the bond between India and its diaspora, fostering a sense of inclusivity and belonging.”

The new policy not only provides relief to thousands of Goan citizens but also resolves a contentious issue that had caused considerable anxiety among those whose passports were revoked after acquiring Portuguese citizenship.

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