This was an interesting question from an online forum.
Wikipedia describes Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin – “A non–resident 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.
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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