Can a US citizen apply for an Aadhaar card?

This is a question that frequently appears in online forums. Here is the response from our editor, Mohan:

Firstly, check out the detailed official FAQ on Adhaar (link). A couple of relevant questions

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Can NRIs also get Aadhaar?

As per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, only a resident who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.

What is the process if NRI / OCI holder needs to apply for Aadhaar? And if they don’t have their own residential address in India now?

As per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, only a resident who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.

Keep in mind, Adhaar is not a proof of citizenship. Therefore, people (including US citizen, OCI) legally residing in India are eligible to apply for an Aadhaar card.


Also, check out an earlier blog post on the topic: Income Tax and Adhaar updates for Non Resident Indians (NRIs)

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Can NRIs use proxy voting for elections in India? Yes !

According to the proposal, NRIs, like members of Indian armed forces, would also be allowed to use the option of proxy voting.

Non Resident Indians (NRIs), by definition are people of Indian origin who hold an Indian passport but ordinarily live in a foreign country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been courting this group of Indians assiduously, anchoring the annual festival – Parivarsi Bharitiya Divas and other outreach events.  The NRI and Indian diaspora is courted by Indian political and business leaders for the large foreign exchange remittances and the other global resources at their disposal. Now, the government wants them to exercise their franchise too!

Vote

Some NRIs who aren’t eligible to participate in the political processes in their host countries try to keep abreast of happenings back in India. They feel that the ability to vote in Indian elections will keep them engaged and enfranchised.

The Government of India has a provision for absentee and proxy voting by members of Armed forces and their families. The Election Comission also allows armed forces personnel to vote at their place of posting, as an interim measure, would be limited to “peace stations” and not include those posted at forward and disturbed areas. (Frequently Asked Questions by Service Voters)

The Indian law does not prevent eligible NRIs from voting in person. The main constraint is the time and cost: currently, an NRI who wishes to vote in state or central elections must travel back to his home constituency to cast a vote in person. He may also be required to show a voter’s ID or other documents as required by local polling officials. Data indicates that only 10-12,000 NRIs voted in the past election since most others didn’t want to spend a lot of money to travel to India to exercise their franchise.

Things are likely to change after the Union Cabinet cleared a proposal to extend proxy voting to overseas Indians by amending electoral laws. The cabinet approved the proposal on August 2, 2017 but the law, “Representation of the People Act” still needs to be amended to include proxy voting as other means to cast their votes. According to the proposal, NRIs, like members of Indian armed forces, would also be allowed to use the option of proxy voting.

Articles on the topic

  • Indian expatriates welcome proxy voting move – Gulf News
  • Only 24,000 overseas Indians have registered as voters – Times of India
  • EC moots proxy voting for NRIs – The Hindu  
  • NRIs In US Welcome Cabinet Decision To Extend Proxy Voting – NDTV

Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?

Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?

This was an interesting question that came from an online forum recently. The person adds: “The reason for question is that I have seen some third party individuals claiming that “their” company has setting with the consular officers and hence higher acceptance rate etc.”

Here is the response from our editor, Mohan

Are US State department and embassy officials corruptible? Sadly, yes they too are humans as these news articles indicate [USA Today: State Department official indicted on bribery charge | ABC News: Embassy Officer Admits Taking $3M in Bribes for Visas ]

With this backdrop, here is the fact: These cases of corruption are too few and far between to be statistically relevant. The U.S immigration system and State Department have sufficient checks-and-balances to quickly identify bad-apples and make sure justice prevails.

Think; if there were allegations of ‘big Indian companies’ bribing US consular officers, Wouldn’t Mr. Trump have already tweeted about it?

Here is how the process works at top companies that apply for H1 visas – e.g Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Accenture, IBM etc

  • These companies have extremely strong ‘visa departments’ with efficient processes and people. The visa department representatives work with line managers and applicants to ensure the right paperwork is submitted accurately, with the right references, supporting letters, credentials etc.
  • The visa-departments and their consultants continually seek the latest updates on visa processing from embassies and consulates, and are quick to update their processes when new requirements are identified.
  • Visa departments also have a closed-loop with candidates to ensure they learn from success, and a few rejections.
  • Visa departments also work with line managers to plan ‘demand’ for resources, especially timed around the ‘H1 Visa’ lottery filing deadlines. These steps ensure an extremely low rate of rejection of visas (compared to rest of the applicant pool).

Hard, grunt work at a large scale is the secret of success, and not ‘corruption’ or ‘bribery’

How do I know? I experienced the efficiencies of Visa Department @Infosys many years ago.


Last week we also blogged about “Immigration Fraud: Indian to lose US citizenship after being convicted”

Immigration Fraud: Indian to lose US citizenship after being convicted

Cutting corners while applying for naturalization is risky and the penalty for doing so is harsh and the US government is very unforgiving as Balbir Singh alias Ranjit Singh discovered.

US citizenship is a privilege that many legal immigrants aspire to. It takes a lot of persistence and effort to be granted this right by the US government. Of-course the benefits of  a US citizenship are many and well documented (link USCIS). Cutting corners while applying for naturalization is risky and the penalty for doing so is harsh and the US government is very unforgiving as Balbir Singh alias Ranjit Singh discovered.

A person of Indian origin, Balbir Singh was recently convicted by US government for using fake identity to get US citizenship. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a maximum USD 250,000 possible fine, revocation of his citizenship and enforcement of his outstanding deportation order.

Here is the sequence of events as appearing in the media.

  • A few years ago, Mr. Singh was ordered deported but lied about it to seek citizenship.
  • Acting US Attorney Abe Martinez said Mr. Singh had previously attempted to obtain asylum under false pretenses.
  • When that asylum attempt failed, an immigration judge ordered his deportation from the United States, thus making him ineligible to ever become a naturalized US citizen.
  • Instead of leaving the country, Mr Singh changed his name, date of birth, the manner in which he entered the United States and his family history so that he could obtain lawful immigration status.
  • He later applied for Naturalization based on a marriage to a United States citizen. In his Naturalization application, Singh denied ever being ordered deported, seeking asylum or using a different identity.
  • After obtaining the citizenship, a fingerprint comparison established the man previously ordered deported from the United States (Balbir Singh) and the man who later became a naturalized citizen (Ranjit Singh) were one and the same.
  • US District Judge Ewing Werlein is scheduled to set sentencing for October 13.

Turns out, it is not just Indians who are guilty. Even US officials sometimes participate in such fraudulent activities. A recent articles stats: US attorney gets Pakistan aide married to Indian origin man for Green Card, charged with marriage fraud.  “A US attorney, who got an Indian- origin naturalised American citizen ‘married’ to his Pakistani assistant so that she could obtain a Green Card, has been charged with marriage fraud along with his woman aide.”

Bottomline: The penalty for fraud and providing false information in US immigration is hard and those attempting this will get caught.

Also check out USCIS process to report Immigration Scams 

News articles about the topic:

 

Expert committee on Non-Resident Indian (NRI) marriages and disputes

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) under the leadership of Sushma Swaraj has set up an expert committee on Non-Resident Indian (NRI) marriages and disputes arising therein.

The Committee includes Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Swati Jaihind along with representatives from the MEA, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Women and Child Development (WCD) and other experts.

The Committee has been mandated to identify legal and regulatory challenges faced by Indian nationals on this pertinent issue and suggest amendments in existing legislations as well as new laws and policies to better resolve the disputes concerning NRI marriages.

The Committee is slated to submit its report by August.

DCW on its part has given certain recommendations and suggestions to the Committee to combat the issues relating to NRI marriages. Further, in order to propose effective and actionable recommendations to the Committee, the Delhi Commission for Women has requested the Committee to seek certain information from MEA and MHA.

The Commission has also decided to seek suggestions from public and experts in the matter, so as to expand its knowledge base as well as learn from field experiences. The Delhi Commission for Women is contacting certain NGOs to seek their opinion in the matter.

The DCW chief has also written to NRI Commission of Punjab, Kerala and Goa to seek data about number of cases arising in their states as well as their views on the matter. Similarly, she has written to chairpersons of women commissions across the country seeking their views on the matter.

The Commission has released a special email ID nri.dcw@gmail.com for people (especially NRIs, experts, NGOs) to share their suggestions on the issue.

The last date for submission is 23 July 2017 till 11 a.m.

Recent questions by Indian lawmakers on the topic include:

  • QUESTION NO.†*450 MARITAL DISPUTES OF NRIs (link) – The Ministry has received 2485 complaints about NRI marital disputes during the last three years and until 30 March 2017.
  • QUESTION NO.1609 INDIAN WOMEN DEFRAUDED BY NRI SPOUSES (link) – The Ministry has been receiving petitions from Indian women stating that their overseas Indian spouse has hidden the fact that he is already married or has a partner. Their petitions pertain to abandonment of the Indian woman by overseas Indian spouse either in India or in the foreign country after marriage. When the overseas Indian husband is summoned to attend court proceedings in India, Indian Missions/Posts have no means for enforcing the order abroad, except when the foreign country accepts the request for mutual legal assistance.

 




Recent stories on the topic include:

Man posing as NRI groom dupes South Mumbai woman of lakhs – The accused, whom the 30-year-old Nagpada-based woman had met on a matrimonial site, introduced himself as an NRI from England cheated her out of Rs 4.19 lakh

SoPs for NRI matrimonial disputes – The Hindu – There have been complaints of frauds, abandonment, domestic violence, extra-marital relationships, ex-parte divorce, being duped of money after promising marriage, forceful/illegal retention of children’s custody, non-maintenance of maintenance etc., from the aggrieved women, Ms.Venkataratnam who left for Delhi said. sThe Ministry of Women and Child Development realising the need, decided to frame Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) providing details of legal recourse available for such women. It would also make available details of legal recourse for such women along with the procedure for accessing the same in consultation with the Ministries of Home, External Affairs, Law and Justice and National Commission for Women.

Q&A – Return to India Query

Advice for NRIs and Indians abroad on returning to India

Here is a recent online query on Returning to India.

I am a software engineer from India and I have spent my last 15 years abroad in various countries. Which place in India is best for an NRI like me to settle down on returning to India with a decent job?

Response from our editor follows

This is a great question, but there is hardy any information on your interests, personal situation, career goals or intent.

If you were unconstrained and had the resources, wouldnt you want to settle in Andamans ?

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or Himachal Pradesh?

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India is a vast, ever-changing nation so it is really important to focus on these:

  • Interests and personal situation:
    • Are you extroverted and outgoing and want an urbane social circle?
    • Do you have an extended family living in a certain region? Do you plan to socialize frequently with your family?

Your interests and personal situation will guide you on the city/region where you want to ‘settle down.’ For example, if your extended family is in Imphal, Manipur, wouldn’t you be better off settling closer in Imphal, Assam or Kolkata? Same goes for your interests. If you love the ocean, wouldn’t you want to settle in Mumbai or Goa?

  • Career goals:
    • Do you specialize in a very niche area. E.g AI or Big-data tool?
    • Do you plan to enrich your career with a move to India?

I am not going to assume whether you are an AI, Big-data or HANA consultant since most metros will have opportunities for these. If you plan to settle in a major metro, this may be a non-issue. However, if you are looking at settling in tier-2 cities, you need to reflect on your career goals and re-skilling too.

  • Intent:
    • Are you clear why you want to move back to India?
    • Are you prepared to accept the ways of life in a developing nation – traffic, pollution, regionalism etc?

Bottomline: Be clear of your intent and you will be better informed. Check out my recent post: “What were your experiences moving back to India after getting US citizenship? What are the best ways to make this move?

You may also be interested in Return 2 India Section of GaramChai.com 


Indian Passport holders aren’t globally welcome?

Indians and Indian passport holders have been traveling overseas in large numbers. An increasing number of them also travel to Europe to tour and explore new lands. As per a recent survey, Indians to spend more on holidays abroad this year:

Travel portal, TripAdvisor, polled more than 44,000 people across 25 countries during the survey conducted between January 16 and February 2. Of these, just over 32,158 were its own customers interviewed online. The others who participated in the survey were a mix of hoteliers and panellist from a market research company.

“Against the optimistic backdrop of the Indian economy, both travellers and hoteliers are expressing clear intentions that paint a positive picture for the Indian travel sector in 2015. Significantly, this optimism looks set to translate into a sharp spike in the number of Indians travelling abroad this year,” said Nikhil Ganju, country manager, TripAdvisor, India.

Of course, travel to foreign lands is fraught with uncertainty. Documentation and visa paperwork is just one factor to consider. However, having the right visas and travel permit is a major issue that Indians face while traveling overseas.

Take the example of the young lady from Mumbai, Khushbu Kaushal, who decided to visit and explore the East European country of Georgia (link) alone. Nothing wrong with that. Single women travelers are increasingly exploring the world alone. However, due to some paperwork issues, Ms. Kaushal was denied entry into Georgia and deported. It is unclear from her detailed facebook post what the issue was but what is appalling is her ordeal.

Kaushal
From Ms. Kaushal’s Facebook

She begins herFacebook post with an appeal to the Georgian Ambassador to India.

Dear Mr. Archil Dzuliashvili (Georgian Ambassador to India) ,

I am a citizen of India, a single woman who earns her honest living working for an advertising agency. This year for my annual break I decided to visit your country Georgia. It rated pretty high for solo woman travellers and the general topography and the history of the country was attractive enough to seal my decision.
My flight for Georgia took off from Mumbai on 29th June at 5am IST and I reached Tbilisi by 5pm Georgia time. I was carrying approved e-visa, letter from my employer stating I was on a holiday and will be joining back after my vacation, my bank statement to prove my financial stability, my hotel bookings to prove my stay in the country is legit and health and travel insurance in case anything happens to me while I am in your country.

….

The post went viral and was picked up my major Indian media outlets. From Indian media :