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NRIs Object To Passport Surrender Fee

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Several Indian professionals who have acquired British nationality have criticised the Ministry of External Affairs for levying an allegedly unfair fee structure while surrendering Indian passports at the Indian High Commission in London.

Under Indian law, Persons-of-Indian-Origin, who have acquired foreign citizenship, are required to surrender their Indian passports to the nearest Indian mission immediately after acquisition of the foreign citizenship.

Raghav Upadhyay, a software professional, who wrote to the Indian High Commission said: "I had applied for the surrender of four Indian passports for me, my wife and two children on 1 June 2010. On the website on that date it stated that the fee was 90 pounds per certificate, but when I reached the High Commission, I found that the fee was 102 pounds per person and accordingly I paid 408 pounds for four persons for the applications."

Upadhayay added: "When I read the news on June 9, 2010 that for those who attained British nationality prior to May 31, 2010 the fee was reduced to 14 pounds per person it was a matter of great dismay for me as all four applications submitted by me have attained naturalisation prior to this date and we have paid 88 pounds per person (a total of 352 pounds) in excess of the current fees. As this amount is sizeable, in terms of fairness, I requested a refund of the excess amount."

A fee of 102 pounds is levied on individuals surrendering their Indian passports, after which a "surrender certificate" is issued.

This certificate is mandatory for future consular services such as visa, Persons of Indian Origin or Overseas Citizen of India cards.

Terming the levy of the fee as a 'fine' for surrendering Indian citizenship, Amit Kapadia, executive director of the HSMP Forum said: "We are deeply concerned over the Indian government's repeated attempts to penalise Indian nationals opting for foreign citizenship in this manner. We have received many complaints from British Indians who have expressed their resentment against the humiliation meted out to them and their families."

Apart from the alleged unfairness of imposing a fee to surrender Indian passports, Kapadia said new rules levying different fees for the same consular service had worsened the situation. The HSMP Forum represents non-European Union professionals, including a large number of Indians.

(PTI)