A first for Tibetans: Overseas Citizen of India certificate

Namgyal Samdup with his Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) certificate that he received on 12 July 2017, in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2017.

Namgyal Samdup with his Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) certificate that he received on 12 July 2017, in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2017. Courtesy of Namgyal Samdup

Tibet Sun Online News

ON THE WEB, 17 July 2017

A Tibetan-Canadian who was born in India and moved to Canada has obtained the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) certificate, making him the first Tibetan to get this document.

Namgyal Samdup from Calgary was born in Bylakuppe, India, in 1978, and moved to Canada in 1999. He got Canadian citizenship in November 2007.

The OCI certificate became possible for Tibetans last year after the Delhi High Court passed an order in September 2016 that Tibetans born in India between 26 January 1950 and 1 July 1987 are citizens of India by birth according to the Citizenship Act of India 1955.

Any person who has been an Indian citizen and has adopted and holds a passport of another country, except that of Pakistan and Bangladesh, is eligible for an Overseas Citizenship of India certificate as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship under their law.

Samdup received his OCI certificate on 12 July after some holdups taking four months. His is the first OCI for a Tibetan after the Delhi High Court ruling.

Speaking to Tibet Sun, Samdup said that he first sent the application on 6 March. Because the case of a Tibetan seeking OCI was unprecedented, his application was held back by BLS International Services, the company that handles the paperwork for the Consulate, and was not sent to the Consulate in Vancouver for approval.

“After a month and half the BLS returned my application along with the fee,” Samdup says. No reason was given for returning the application.

After several attempts through phone calls and email to discover the reason for not processing his application, Samdup went in person to the India Consulate in Vancouver.

“I was able to explain everything in detail. It was totally unusual and a new thing for them. At the end they said they are not able to make the decision, the best they can do is send it to Delhi and let the Ministry make the decision,” explained Samdup.

Since all the OCI applications are processed in Delhi, Samdup agreed to this, and the Consulate told BLS to accept his application.

He then sent the application again to BLS on 23 May, and it was acknowledged at the Consulate on 6 June, and Samdup finally received his OCI certificate over a month later.

India is one of a few countries that does not allow dual citizenship. In place of that, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) certificate was launched in 2006.

The OCI provides a lifelong visa to India for any number of visits, and for any purpose; the same benefits as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in economic, financial and educational fields, except in purchase of agricultural property; and exclusion from registration with the FRRO for staying in the country, which a foreigner is required to undergo.

Since the OCI holders do not have full citizenship of India, they do not have the rights to vote, hold certain high government offices, or appointment to government service.

As of 2015, the OCI booklet together with a current valid foreign passport is sufficient to travel to and from India.

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