GOPIO to take up outstanding passport, visa issue with India

"NRIs and PIOs are still going through lot problems on these issues," said Thomas Abraham of GOPIO in a statement.

GOPIO feels that recent decisions taken by the Indian Government with regard to passport and visas for the people of Indian origin were arbitrary and without proper thinking. This has caused enormous problems for NRIs and PIOs who are especially the naturalized citizens of other countries, Abraham said.

"Indirectly, Government of India is telling you that to visit Mother India, you will have to first pay an enormous amount and then go through all hassles," he alleged.
In July 2010, GOPIO submitted a memorandum to Vayalar Ravi, Minister for overseas Indian Affairs on the Passport Surrender rules.

In the letter, GOPIO demanded that the passport surrender fee of USD 175 from those who became naturalized citizens after June 1, 2010 be reduced to USD 20 and give 3 months for surrender and if not surrendered, charge a fee of USD 175.

GOPIO suggests that those who have become naturalized citizen before 2000 and whose Indian passports are already expired need not obtain surrender certificate since those passports are no more valid travel documents.

It also requested that Government of India should relax the current rigid requirements to obtain surrender certificates for those whose passports have been misplaced or lost.
"Increase the staff at Indian Missions handling the passports and visa especially in countries such as the USA, UK, Canada, Australia till these issues are resolved," it said.
Abraham said on June 1, 2010, the Consul General of India, New York, in his press conference stated that overseas Indians who acquired foreign citizenship on or before 31st May, 2010 will pay USD 20 and no penalties to obtain surrender certificate.

"However, consulates in the United States and Canada have started charging retention penalty if a person has held an Indian passport which expired on or after 1 January 2005 and the passport remained un-cancelled for a period of 3 years after the acquisition of the foreign nationality. This is retroactive enforcement of surrender certificates rules which were relaxed," Abraham alleged.

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