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Citizenship by Descent in India

Citizenship by Descent in India

The Citizenship Act allows an individual to apply for citizenship of India by descent, along with the option to become a citizen at birth or through registration or naturalization. When a citizen of another state wishes to apply for the option to acquire citizenship based on heritage, he or she will need to be able to prove the ties to an Indian national.

Section 4 of the Citizenship Act is the one to detail the process of acquiring citizenship by descent in India and our team of attorneys can answer any questions you might have about the requirements, as they may apply to your particular case.

Quick facts  
How to obtain citizenship in India



– by birth,

– by descent,

– by registration,

– by naturalization.

Citizenship by descent – characteristics


If someone has Indian ancestry or heritage, he/she can apply for citizenship based on family ties to Indian nationals.

Criteria for citizenship by descent


A foreign national can acquire Indian citizenship by descent, depending on his/her birthdate.

Requirements for foreigners born from Jan 26th, 1950 – Dec 9th, 1992

The applicant’s father must be an Indian citizen by birth OR

His/her birth must be registered with an Indian mission abroad within one year (if father has citizenship by descent).

Requirements for foreigners born from Dec 10th, 1992 – Dec 2nd, 2004

One of the applicant’s parents must be Indian citizen by birth OR

His/her birth must be registered with an Indian mission abroad within one year (if parents have citizenship by descent);

Central Government approval is required in this case.

Requirements for foreigners born on or after Dec 3rd, 2004

One of the applicant’s parents must be Indian citizens by birth and his/her birth must be registered with an Indian mission abroad within one year;

Applicant must not hold passports for other countries;

Central Government approval is required in this case.

Delayed birth registration

The application is forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs and requires special approval.

Citizenship by descent for grandchildren (YES/NO)

YES, but additional documents to attest to the family link will be required.

Our lawyers in India can help.

Overseas Citizens of India


Cannot obtain Indian citizenship by descent.
General required documents for citizenship by descent


– application form,

– passport-size photographs,

– birth certificate,

– proof of parents’ Indian citizenship,

– birth registration number, etc.

Submission of application

– online,

– at embassy or consulate in the country where the child was born.

Restricted nationalities for Indian citizenship by descen


Dual citizenship allowed (YES/NO)


Advantages of Indian citizenship

– right to vote,

– employment opportunities,

– access to government schemes,

– right to own property,

– traveling benefits, etc.



Our law firm in India includes a team of immigration lawyers that will help interested foreigners in obtaining citizenship.

At our law firm in India, we assist foreign citizens who wish to relocate to the country and are in need of a visa or a residence permit, as well as those who have been living in India for a number of years and are now ready to obtain citizenship.

Conditions for acquiring citizenship by descent in India

There are three distinct cases in which a foreign national can acquire citizenship by descent, depending on his or her birthdate. Our team lists these below:

  1. Born outside of India between January 26th 1950 and December 9th 1992: if his father was an Indian citizen by birth at the time the applicant was born; if the father was not a citizen of India by birth but by descent, then the applicant can apply for citizenship of India by descent only if his or her birth was registered with an Indian mission abroad within one year of his or her birth;
  2. Born outside of India between December 10th 1992 and December 2nd 2004:  if either the mother of the father was a citizen of India by birth at the time the applicant (the child) was born; if either of the parents had citizenship by descent in India and not birth, then the same condition to have registered the child with an Indian Mission abroad within one year of his or her birth is required; additionally, the Central Government needs to issue an approval for this particular situation;
  3. Born outside of India on or after December 3rd 2004: can acquire citizenship by descent in India if any of the parents was an Indian citizen at the time of birth and the child was registered with the Indian Mission abroad within one year of birth; in this case, the parents also have to submit a statement that the child does not have a passport issued by another country; Government approval is also required in this case.

The child or grandchild of an individual who falls under one of these categories can also be eligible for citizenship by descent. In this case, additional documents to attest to the family link will be required.

A special category is in place for Overseas Citizens of India. These are individuals who are citizens of another country however, they either were citizens of India at the time of or after the commencement of the constitution or were eligible to become citizens.

If you fall under one of these categories, our team of immigration lawyers in India can assist you. Please read below if you wish to know more about the process, as we answer some commonly asked questions.

Permanent residency in India can be acquired by descent, or through other routes. For those who do not qualify as descendants of Indian nationals, our team can provide personalized information about their options, depending on the purpose of their stay in the country. We offer counsel and assistance from the earliest relocation phases. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Understandably so, obtaining citizenship in India by descent is not available to all foreign nationals. For some, the option for registration for citizenship as the spouse of an Indian citizen (after a sufficient lawful stay in the country) can be their route to citizenship. Irrespective of your particular situation, our team can answer personalized questions about the citizenship application.

We also invite you to watch a short video on this means of acquiring citizenship:

FAQ on obtaining citizenship by descent in India

As seen above, any individual born outside of India can be a citizen of India by descent if one or both parents are or were an Indian citizen (not illegal immigrants) and if the birth is properly registered. As a key requirement, the applicant who wishes to obtain Indian citizenship based on his or her ancestry will need to provide documents that show the parent’s status at the time of the applicant’s birth.

What happens if the birth was not registered within one year?

In these cases the process can still be approved, however, it will be subject to additional permission. The application is forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs, and it will require special approval. Applicants should not be discouraged by this additional step in their Indian citizenship by descent application. In fact, it may be that some parents simply did not choose to register the birth of their child (or could not within the prescribed time). Our attorneys in India can assist you if this is the case.

What are the required documents?

The filled in application form is required and individuals should take note of the special requirements (filled in block or capital letters). This is accompanied by a recent passport-size photograph (as per the specific size requirements) as well as additional documents such as the birth certificate, the parent’s documents and others. The file number issued after the registration of the child with the Ministry of Home Affairs can also be required.

Where is the application submitted?

An online application can be submitted and our team of lawyers can give you more details. For parents planning to register their child or children born abroad, this is made with the embassy or consulate in the country where the child was born. Parents who require assistance during this process can also reach out to our immigration experts.

You can reach out to the experts at our law firm in India if you wish to know more about how to apply for citizenship of India by descent.

Not all foreign nationals will be able to apply for citizenship by descent. For those who remain in India via other routes, our team can answer any questions about immigration to India and the need to apply for a residence permit and when the applicant to do so at the latest. We provide complete assistance to those who relocate to the country, during the pre- and post-arrival stages.

Becoming an Indian citizen

Although there are many nationals of Indian descent who live throughout the world, not all foreign nationals who wish to acquire Indian nationality were born to Indian parents. However, as previously mentioned, there are other routes to acquire citizenship in India.

The following criteria are relevant for naturalization as an Indian citizen:

  • The applicant has been an Indian resident during the 12 months preceding the application;
  • The foreign national has spent the last 14 years preceding the 12 months before the date of the application residing in India;
  • The minimum period of residence in India cannot be, in aggregate, less than 11 years for an individual who wishes to become naturalized as an Indian citizen.
  • The applicant must be of good character and have adequate language knowledge.

While the above criteria are in force for citizenship by naturalization, and while citizenship by descent in India is subject to different conditions for proving ancestry, it is still relevant to note that adequate language knowledge, as well as social integration, are relevant for applicants.

Please note that the information above corresponds to the Citizenship Act, 1955 Section 6(1). Our attorneys in India can give you more information about this Act, as well as its additions and any other laws that are relevant to your situation and your application.

Living in India

Once you decide to move to India, you will need to consider a series of important decisions. Firstly, remaining in the country with a lawful residence permit is paramount. The general application process, and any issues concerning its renewal, can be detailed by our Indian lawyers. You will also need to adequately enter the country for your first visit, even as a descendant of an Indian national.

Some of the issues foreigners will need to consider, including when relocating to the country based on acquiring citizenship by descent in India, are the following: employment and accommodation, education for their children (as appropriate for their age, in the case of families who relocate together), opening a bank account, healthcare, and applying for an Indian driving license.

For those who plan on remaining in the country based on their Indian citizenship by descent, our lawyers can assist with buying property in India.

The choice to relocate to India means that the foreign national will need to observe not only the general rules for lawful residency in India, but also those concerning lawful contributions, employment, and other requirements. Those who relocate to India based on their ancestry should know that they will be subject to the regular requirements for taxation and other rules imposed on their income, including when they continue to derive income from a foreign source.

Indian citizen taxation

Below, our tax lawyers in India summarize the most important taxes and their rates, payable by a foreigner who relocates to the country and derives income from an Indian source, including for those who relocate to the country based on their ancestry:

  • 0% for income of up to INR 250,000 (about 3,000 USD);
  • 5% for income in the tax brackets of 250,001 to 300,000 INR and 300,001 to 500,000 INR;
  • 20% for income in the tax brackets of INR 500,001 to 600,000; 600,001 to 900,000 and 900,001 to 1,000,000 INR;
  • 30% for income tax exceeds 900,001 as per three different other brackets.

To these rates which are progressive up to 30%, a 4% cess applies. An individual is considered a resident for taxation purposes if he/she spends at least 182 days in the country in any given year.

Are you interested in immigration to India? Our team will give you details about all the applicable requirements for lawfully residing in the country, and also those that apply once you have obtained permanent residency and are en route to applying for citizenship.

Contact our law firm in India for complete assistance during your application, including when you apply for citizenship by descent in India.