Prior to graduating, I made a promise to myself to travel back to Goa, India. After many trips abroad, I have decided that the most meaningful and most useful education comes from leaving the comforts of our everyday surroundings and exploring new languages, foods, conversations, social norms, friendships and even transportiation. I have set aside some of my student loans to make this trip possible. I mean, I am putting it towards my education, right?! More than that, I want to make Goa a place where I am comfortable traveling to, a place where I can call home not only for myself, but for my future children.
First step, acquire a travel passport visa. Yes, everyone who plans to enter India needs a visa. There are many different types of visas so depending on the purpose of your visit and the duration of your stay, choose wisely. Also, make sure that your current US passport is valid for at least six months. Since I am traveling for leisure, I am applying for a “Travel Visa.”
I started to search the Internet for the Embassy and how to obtain a travel visa. The links that I came across all directed me to the Cox and Kings Global Services (CKGS). “CKGS is the only authorized Services Provider for the embassy of India and its Consulates across the USA for Visa, OCI Renunciation of Indian Citizenship services as follows with effect from May 21, 2014.”
As much as I tried to find a simple way around it, there was none to find and I had to begin the process. The site is a bit tricky to navigate and move around so please take notes of your “Temporary ID/ Web Reference Number” You are allowed to log in and out at different times which is important to keep your Web Reference Number handy in order to log in and continue where you left off. There are lots of documents to print so having access to a printer is necessary.
I begin to answer the questions with ease until I get to where I am asked if I hold an Indian passport. Well, yes I do. The next question asked if I still had my Indian Passport and well, yes I do. So now I am required to submit my Renunciation of Indian Citizenship form of proof. What!?! I began to stress out. Another application, another few weeks, another fee, and another hoop to jump through. I love surprises, but not this kind of surprise.
Confused like me, well here is the breakdown from their website. Renunciation is defined as “Surrender and Renunciation of Indian Citizenship applies only to applications of Indian Origin. Under The Indian Citizenship Act, 1955, Persons of Indian Origin is NOT allowed DUAL Citizenship. If a person has ever held an Indian Passport and has obtained the passport of another country, they will be required to surrender their Indian Passport immediately after gaining another Country’s nationality.”
Why I was able to obtain two other travel visas without going through this process, I am not sure so don’t ask. 🙂
Luckily, CKGS directed me to the appropriate link to begin the Renunciation process. There is a way to submit for your Renunciation of Indian Citizenship and a travel visa at the same time, but I didn’t want to take the chance. I decided to submit one at a time.
I began the Renunciation application online and to my surprise they ask for my Permanent Indian address. For real? Well, in my case my last address was my orphanage that no longer exist today. I copied the address that is in my Indian passport. The address is not complete so I had to google the zip code (known as the pin code) and typed in what I found and prayed that it would work.
I completed the application, printed out the documents, signed where I needed to, made copies of my passport and naturalization certificat scheduled my appointment (drop off app. in person), and reviewed the checklist over and over.
I had everything. I was ready. I traveled to San Francisco and showed up on time to my appointment. Everything went smoothly, until the CKGS employee asked me for my marriage license. Huh? I’m not married. But, my name changed from what is printed on my Indian passport to what is printed on my current proof of ID. When I was adopted, I never went through a formal name change process. My parents just added my father’s last name to my name given at birth.
A rush of anxiety traveled through my body quickly. I didn’t know what other way to explain it to the CKGS employee. Then I remembered! My adoptive father’s full name is on my Indian passport so that is how I got his last name on my current proof of ID. The CKGS employee highlighted it and again, I prayed that I didn’t get any emails stating that I was denied. He wasn’t sure it was going to be enough but it was the best we could do.
He accepted all my paperwork on his end, but it still needed to get approved. Then it was time to start the waiting game. I left the appointment and jumped on a bus back to Sacramento.
I checked my email on a regular basis and there were no red flags. About two weeks later I received an email stating that my certificate and Indian passport was in transit back to me! Thank you, Universe! Let me tell you, I was not excited about sending off my Indian passport in the mail. As an adoptee I value that passport soooooo much. It’s a very special piece of my story and the beginning of my life in the US.
I opened my envelops and there it was, a red printed “PASSPORT CANCELLED AS ACQUIRED U.S NATIONALITY” stamp. As of September 1, 2016, I was legally no longer an Indian Citizen. Not that I really was one, but now it’s official I guess.
I sat with my passport for a few minutes. In all honesty, it didn’t really bother me too much that my Indian passport was cancelled. It does suck that adoptees cannot hold dual citizenship. The closest I can get is to apply for an Overseas Citizen of India. Nonetheless, I am glad that the process was approved without an issues and now I can move on to get my India Travel Visa. Stay tuned.