THE Indian-Americans overwhelmingly support dual citizenship from the Indian government while non-resident Indians prefer proxy voting instead of direct postal ballots, according to a survey.
The survey has been compiled by Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) USA and was conducted ahead of prime minister Narendra Modi’s address to a crowd of 50,000 Indian-Americans in Houston over the weekend.
The survey covered various topics ranging from immigration issues, investment, dual citizenship, double taxation and transfer of social security funds.
Among the surveyed questions, demand for dual citizenship received maximum support with 4.4 star rating.
“While citizens of many other countries have had the ability to apply for US citizenship without renouncing the citizenship of their home country, non-resident Indians have been requesting this same opportunity from the Indian government for many years without luck,” FIIDS said.
On January 8, 2002, L M Singhvi, who was the Chairman of the High-Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora, had submitted recommendations for dual citizenship.
The late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajapee had accepted the recommendation in January 2003, however, the 2005 amendment in Citizenship Act of 1955 gave Overseas Citizenship which is short of a dual citizenship.
“When it came to NRI’s voting, 33 per cent preferred the proxy voting as declared by the government while 28 per cent preferred a direct postal voting,” FIIDS said, adding that the need of India’s influence on US immigration policies was the second most important demand the NRIs voted on.
Among various immigration issues, expediting green card processing received 80 per cent of preference while 60 per cent preference was on H1/L1 related policies and 30 per cent on H4/EAD, the survey said.
In their comments, NRI’s expressed that Indian citizens applying for US permanent residency faced years of painful delays in processing by US Immigration due to “country-wise quota policy”.
They hope that the Indian government discusses the subject with the US government.
The survey also revealed that various financial, investment and taxation related policies were very important to the NRIs.
Among the financial policies, the highest rating 4.4 stars (out of 5) was for permission to directly invest in India’s stock market while allowing investment in farm-land received 3.9 stars (out of 5) rating.
On taxation issues, avoidance of dual taxation received 4.2-star rating while repatriating social security taxes to India received 4.0-star rating.
For the repatriation of social security taxes withheld in the US, India would need to have a social security repatriation treaty with the US.
Similarly, a Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and the US will be needed to avoid a tax evasion route often adopted for investment to India via tax haven countries like Mauritius and Singapore.
All these investment and taxation policy changes would increase the inflow of foreign funds to India and strengthen the bond of the NRIs to India, it said.