Since India does not allow dual citizenship, having a child in the United States raises the question of which citizenship your little one should have. All children born in the United States are issued an American birth certificate and that makes the process of obtaining citizenship in America very easy.
While there are many beneficial reasons to become a US citizen, if the parents plan on returning to India, they should opt for an Overseas Citizenship of India. This will help in easier migration to India and also entitle your child to rights that all other Indians enjoy. To make an informed decision, read Born in the USA? The Problem of Two Citizenships, published in The Economic Times.
Steps to Bringing a Newborn Back to India
Step 1 – Obtain a birth certificate for your child.
The application procedure can be taken care of at the hospital where the child is born, within hours of the birth. Once the application has been filed, you can contact the Office of Birth and Death at the Vital Records Office for updates and availability of the certificate. Once the certificate is ready, you can pick up a copy from their office, by producing a photo ID and paying a fee of $19.
Step 2 – Apply for a passport.
Go through the US Passport and International Travel website in detail to understand the procedure for applying for a passport, if you choose United States citizenship for your child. Note that a Social Security Number is not required by your child to be issued a US passport. And if you opt for an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), you will have to apply for an Indian passport, which you can read about here and apply for a new OCI here.
Step 3 – Get an appointment.
If you’re applying for an American passport, find a post office with passport acceptance facilities and schedule an appointment to complete the application process.
Step 4 – For the appointment, you need to visit your nearest post office with your child’s original birth certificate, a filled DS-11 application form, original and copies of the passports of both parents, original legal status documents and a checkbook. It is important for both parents to be present at this appointment. However, if either of you is unable to come, an affidavit stating the same is required. You can opt for expedited services for an additional fee of $60 and even overnight delivery at $15.
This step is optional but advisable for a child with an American passport. A PIO Card does not grant your child dual citizenship but recognizes his or her association with India and thus offers benefits, such as visa-free entry to the country. It can be applied online for a fee of $185 and takes about 2 to 4 weeks to be issued.
You can apply for OCI card as well as PIO is no longer valid. Here are the directions.
Step 6 – Apply for an Indian visa.
If your child is a US citizen and you do not want a PIO card issued in his or her name, you will have to apply for a visa to enter India. The Government of India offers e-Visa services that allow you to apply, pay for and receive a visa electronically.
Keeping in mind the time taken for the process, you should start well in advance of your travel date. Also, the earlier your child’s visa is confirmed, the sooner you can buy the plane tickets, which are the cheapest when bought early.