Indian Citizenship by Descent: The Ultimate Guide

Updated: 3 July 2023

In the crucible of nationality, the ancient principles of jus sanguinis, the right of blood, hold potent sway. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1955, amended over time, explores this doctrine with a unique South Asian perspective. 

This article dives deep into the labyrinth of Indian citizenship by descent, navigating through the intricate processes, criteria, and requirements. Traverse this legal and social terrain through this article; the world of Indian citizenship awaits your exploration.

What Indian Citizenship Means

Legally, Indian citizenship affords one the recognition as a member of the Indian polity, the right to vote, seek public office, and enjoy constitutionally guaranteed rights and protections. The Citizenship Act of 1955, coupled with its amendments, shapes the legal understanding and delineation of citizenship, its acquisition, and its cessation.

On a practical plane, Indian citizenship translates into everyday rights and responsibilities; a passport, access to social welfare schemes, a voice in democratic processes, and the duty to uphold the law of the land. This legal status also grants an inherent sense of belonging to a complex and diverse society, bound by a shared socio-political fabric. Yet, this is no monolith. Citizenship in India can vary in experience as it collides with the realities of diverse regional, cultural, and socio-economic contexts across the nation.

Benefits of Indian Citizenship

There are many benefits to becoming an Indian citizen. These perks include:

  • Right to Vote: Participation in the democratic process through voting in national, state, and local elections.
  • Employment Opportunities: Unrestricted access to all job sectors, including positions in government and public services that may be limited to citizens.
  • Property Ownership: Right to acquire, hold, transfer, and dispose of property in India, without the restrictions placed on non-citizens.
  • Legal Protections: Access to constitutional rights and legal protections, including the right to equality, freedom of speech and expression, and protection of life and personal liberty.
  • Social Security Benefits: Access to state-sponsored social security schemes, including healthcare, education, and retirement benefits.
  • Consular Support: Protection by Indian consulates and embassies abroad during times of crisis.
  • Political Representation: Right to run for public office, offering an opportunity to shape national policy and governance.
  • Cultural Connection: A sense of belonging and identification with the rich heritage, traditions, and shared history of India.

What Is Indian Citizenship by Descent?

Indian citizenship by descent, a facet of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955, signifies the conferment of nationality based on one’s lineage, an allowance for individuals born outside India. It operates on the principle of jus sanguinis, Latin for “right of blood”, as opposed to jus soli, “right of the soil”. It is not the location of birth, but the identity of one’s parents, specifically their nationality, that forms the cornerstone of this citizenship criterion. 

This pathway to nationality underscores the connection between heritage and citizenship, forming a bridge between individuals and a country they may have never resided in. It’s a testament to the enduring link between ancestry and national identity, acknowledging the ties of blood as an avenue for belonging, extending the umbrella of Indian nationality beyond its geographic borders to include the global diaspora.

Who’s Eligible for Indian Citizenship by Descent?

Since citizenship by descent is conferred based on a person’s lineage rather than their place of birth, an individual born outside India may be eligible for Indian citizenship through this route if certain conditions are met, solidifying their link to a nation through the thread of ancestry rather than territorial affiliation.

The criteria to qualify for Indian Citizenship by descent include:

  • At least one of the individual’s parents should be an Indian citizen at the time of their birth.
  • For those born on or after December 3, 2004, it is required that besides one parent being an Indian citizen, the other parent should not be an unauthorized migrant at the time of the birth.
  • The birth should be registered at an Indian consulate within a year or later with the permission of the Central Government.

Steps to Getting Indian Citizenship by Descent

If you are interested in acquiring Indian citizenship by descent, you will need to follow a certain set of steps to become eligible. These steps include the following:

#1 Assessment of Eligibility: Determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for Indian citizenship by descent. This involves ensuring at least one of your parents was a citizen of India at your time of birth and, if you were born after December 3, 2004, the other parent was not an illegal migrant.

#2 Collection of Necessary Documents: Gather necessary documentation, including birth certificates, proof of your parent’s Indian citizenship, and your passport.

#3 Registration of Birth: If you are under the age of one, register your birth at the nearest Indian consulate.

#4 Application Submission: For those aged over one, fill out the appropriate form for a ‘Certificate of Citizenship’ on the Indian government’s online portal and attach the necessary documents.

#5 Payment of Fees: Pay the prescribed fees through the online portal.

#6 Submission of Physical Application: Print the completed form and mail it along with the original documents to the Ministry of Home Affairs, India.

#7 Follow-up: Await confirmation of receipt and processing of your application, which may take several months.

#8 Grant of Citizenship: Once the application is approved, the Certificate of Citizenship will be issued, affirming your status as an Indian citizen by descent.

How to Get an Indian Passport

The Indian passport, a symbol of national identity, is a crucial travel document that unlocks a multitude of international territories for its bearers. Reflecting the political and diplomatic relationships of India, it serves as an access pass to over 60 countries without the need for a prior visa. The ‘power’ of the Indian passport, thus, extends far beyond mere travel – it is a testament to India’s global standing, acting as a tool of diplomacy and international mobility.

The steps to obtain an Indian passport are as follows:

  1. Preparation: Collect necessary documents, including proof of address, date of birth, and proof of Indian citizenship.
  2. Application: Complete the online Passport Application form on the official Passport Seva website.
  3. Payment: Pay the required fee online and schedule an appointment for document verification at the nearest Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK).
  4. Verification: Attend the appointment, carrying all required original documents for verification.
  5. Police Verification: Upon successful document verification, a police verification request is sent to your local police station.
  6. Receipt: Once the police verification is completed and cleared, the passport is printed, dispatched, and delivered to the given address.

Indian Passport Fees and Costs

The following is the fee scheme for obtaining an Indian passport.

Service RequiredApplication FeeAdditional Tatkaal Fee
New or Renewed Passport (36 pages), 10-year validityRs.1,500/-*Rs.2,000/-*
New or Renewed Passport (60 pages), 10-year validityRs.2,000/-Rs.2,000/-
New or Renewed Passport for Minors (36 pages), 5 years validity or until they turn 18Rs.1,000/-Rs.2,000/-
Passport Replacement (36 pages) due to loss, damage or theftRs.3,000/-Rs.2,000/-
Passport Replacement (60 pages) due to loss, damage or theftRs.3,500/-Rs.2,000/-
Police Clearance Certificate (PCC)Rs.500/-NA
Reissue of Passport (36 pages) with changes in personal details or ECR deletion, 10-year validityRs.1,500/-Rs.2,000/-
Reissue of Passport (60 pages) with changes in personal details or ECR deletion, 10-year validityRs.2,000/-Rs.2,000/-
Reissue of Passport (36 pages) for Minors with changes in personal details or ECR deletion, 5 years validity or until they turn 18Rs.1,000/-Rs.2,000/-

Waiting Time for the Indian Passport

The issuance time of an Indian passport can vary based on individual circumstances, location, and the type of service requested. However, under the streamlined processes of the Passport Seva initiative, the typical waiting period for a fresh passport under the normal application process is about 30 to 45 days, subject to successful police verification.

For applicants opting for the ‘Tatkaal’ service, an expedited process, the passport can be issued as quickly as within one to three working days, post police verification. This timeframe signifies the commitment of Indian authorities to facilitate efficient and effective services, making international travel more accessible for its citizens. 

Please note that these timeframes are estimates, and actual timescales may vary. Always check the current processing times when planning your travel.

Indian Citizenship by Descent: Conclusion

In conclusion, Indian citizenship by descent serves as a testament to the intricate interplay between ancestry, legal principles, and national identity. It highlights the significance of lineage in shaping the experiences and sense of belonging for individuals connected to India across the globe. 

By recognizing the transmission of citizenship through blood ties, this provision reinforces the bond between those with Indian ancestry and their homeland. Navigating the eligibility criteria and procedural steps for obtaining Indian citizenship by descent can be a transformative journey, uniting individuals with their ancestral roots and unlocking a host of rights and opportunities. 

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