Annul new visa rules: demand Indian-Americans
They claimed the new rules harassed them, especially the exorbitant fee and penalties. As per the new rules, effective immediately, a service fee of $175 will be charged for obtaining a surrender certificate after renouncing the Indian citizenship. Also added penalties will be charged depending on the varying dates of expiry of the passports.
Another topic of distress is the entry visa. The new rules decree people of Indian origin will get only an entry visa and not a tourist visa. The catch here being that the tourist visa is granted for 10 years; entry visa is given only for five years. For a 10-year tourist visa one needs to pay $168 while for a five-year entry visa, one has to pay $238.
"We are not Tatas or Birlas to pay such high fees for an unnecessary thing based on a law that was not enforced for 55 years. The government should listen to us. We are no less Indian just because we took up citizenship in the US," said Thomas T Oommen, who organised the people's protest without the involvement of major organizations.
A memorandum to be presented to the consul general was made by the protestors. But the group was not allowed inside and it was placed with the security to be handed over to the consul general.
One of the protestors, Aleayamma Jacob, who became a U.S. citizen 30 years ago, had recently applied for the Overseas Citizenship of India Card and got the approval. However, before the mail could reach her, the rule was changed. She has to pay $175 for renouncing the Indian citizenship and get a Surrender Certificate, in addition to a notarised affidavit and pay another $175.Other penalties may apply, though she is not sure about how much.
"If they wanted to implement an outdated law, they should have given notice to the people and allowed some time for people to respond. They should also create extra facilities at the consulates to deal with the rush. But true to the Indian bureaucratic style they implemented an order without any consideration for the hardships of the people," John C Varghese, general secretary of the Federation of Kerala Association in America said.