Singapore’s Passport is the most powerful in the world

Middle class Indians, especially educated younger class aspire to migrate west for work and to live. The eventual goal is to acquire a foreign citizenship and an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status. For middle class Indians, a foreign citizenship, like American Naturalization is not only a status symbol but a sense of having arrived!

flikr_GoodbyeOldPassport
Image: flickr.com/photos/ikkoskinen

This trend is not restricted to Indians alone. Rich and famous people from around the world aspire to get a second passport or citizenship to enable them Visa free travel as and when they please.

Companies like advisory firm Arton Capital frequently track and rank passports that can enable one to travel ‘visa free’ around the world. This year’s 2017 Global Passport Power Rank (link) lists Singaporean passport with a score of 159 as the highest, followed by Germany at 158 and Sweden and South Korea tied at 157.

Arton Capital’s Passport Index is the world’s most popular online interactive tool, which collects, displays and ranks the passports of the world. The real time global ranking of the world’s passports are updated as frequently as new visa waivers and changes are announced. Passports of 193 United Nations member countries and 6 territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican) for a total of 199 are considered.

Arton’s report ranked all of the passports of the world for their “total visa-free score,” where a point is given for each country that their holders can visit without a visa, with a visa on arrival, or using electronic travel authorization.  What this means is simple: Singaporean Passport holders can travel to 159 countries visa free or requesting a visa on arrival.

 

Afghanistan ranks at the bottom with a rank of 22 preceded by Pakistan and Iraq tied at 26.  The Indian Passport’s Visa Free score is 51.

In case you plan to rush to acquire a Singaporean Passport, keep in mind it is not going to be easy. According to Wikipedia

Singaporean nationality law is derived from the Constitution of Singapore and is based on jus sanguinis and a modified form of jus soli. There are three ways of acquiring Singaporean citizenship: by birth, by descent, or by registration. Citizenship by naturalisation is no longer granted.

A person can apply for registration as a Singaporean citizen if he or she has been a Permanent Resident for at least two years and is gainfully employed or married to a Singaporean citizen.

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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

Image result for adhaar faq

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)

Q&A: Did the NRI status exist before independence?

This was an interesting question from an online forum.

Wikipedia describes Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin – “A nonresident Indian (NRI) is a citizen of India who holds an Indian passport and has temporarily emigrated to another country for six months or more for employment, residence, education or any other purpose.”

Before Indian Independence, the British issued a “British Indian passport – Wikipedia

“The British Indian passport was a passport, proof of national status and travel document issued to the British subjects of British Indian Empire, British subjects from other parts of the British Empire, and the subjects of the British protected states in India (i. e. the British Protected Persons of the ‘princely states’). The title of state used in the passport was the “Indian Empire”, which covered all of modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma.”

So, technically, NO. The “NRI Status” did not exist before independence.

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 

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