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Issue of Portuguese nationality for Goans

According to the prevailing law in Goa, anyone who is born in Goa before 18th December 1961, their children and grandchildren are eligible for the Portuguese passport and nationality. In some cases, children born in Portugal to non-citizens may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship. However this does not apply to children born to tourists or short-term visitors. Portuguese citizenship law is complicated by the existence of numerous former colonies and in some cases it is possible to claim Portuguese citizenship by connection with one of these jurisdictions.
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According to the prevailing law in Goa, anyone who is born in Goa before 18th December 1961, their children and grandchildren are eligible for the Portuguese passport and nationality. In some cases, children born in Portugal to non-citizens may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship. However this does not apply to children born to tourists or short-term visitors. Portuguese citizenship law is complicated by the existence of numerous former colonies and in some cases it is possible to claim Portuguese citizenship by connection with one of these jurisdictions. The most notable of these are Goa. Portugal allows dual citizenship. Hence, Portuguese citizens holding or acquiring a foreign citizenship do not lose Portuguese citizenship. Similarly, those becoming Portuguese citizens do not have to renounce their foreign citizenship and this is applicable to the Goans holding the Portuguese passport as dual citizenship.

Although this issue became very controversial in Goa upon the revealing of information of several politicians, even legislators, police officers, bureaucrats, lawyers and thousands of Goans holds Portuguese passport. The ‘dual citizenship’ issue had become a political hot potato with two ruling legislators, Glen Ticlo and Caitu Silva, being accused of having Portuguese passports.

portuguese passport

To resolve the Portuguese citizenship issue in Goa the central government with the panel of three-member high-level committee B K Prasad, additional secretary, Union home ministry, on Sunday said that the “Union government is serious about resolving the issue of those Goans who have registered their births in Portugal and they will submit a report to the Union home minister on these issues.” Addressing to the media Mr. Prasad said, “We have to resolve the issue and we have to clear the confusion in the minds of Goans.” The three-member committee, which arrived in Goa on Saturday, held a series of meetings with lawyers who are well-versed with Portuguese law, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, NRI commissioner Wilfred Mesquita and south Goa MP Narendra Savoikar on Saturday and Sunday.

Sources, who were present at the meeting, said that it was suggested that the Union government should amend the Indian citizenship act so that those who have registered their births in Lisbon, Portugal, should not lose their Indian citizenship. The suggestions have been made that, Goans who have registered their births in Portugal should be allowed to give a declaration stating that they have registered their births in Portugal for the better future of their children and they are Indian citizens.

Many Goans, born in Goa, before December 19, 1961, register their births in Portugal and obtain Portuguese citizenship. Their children, who are born after 1961, are also eligible to register their births in Portugal and obtain citizenship or get a ‘bilhete de identidade’, which is said to be as good as getting a Portuguese citizenship. According to the sources many Goans use the ‘bilhete de identidade’ to travel across Europe as it makes the Schengen visa redundant. Many have sought employment in Europe on the basis of the bilhete. Government statistics say there are around 40,000 Goans who have registered their births in Portugal, but, do not have a Portuguese passport or bilhete de identidade.

With the increase in globalization it is quite possible that the system will allow people to enjoy the dual or may be multiple citizenship, but as far as the Goa is concerned it is mandatory to allow the people and their heirs to have dual citizenship as they the law in Goa is still governed by the Portuguese law to some extent.

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