OCI and PIO cards: All you need to know

PIO card (Person of Indian Origin) card and OCI cards (Overseas Citizen of India) give different benefits.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Updated: January 8, 2017 9:52 pm
narendra modi, Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, PIO card, OCI card,Person of Indian Origin, Overseas Citizen of India, NRI, Indian diaspora, diaspora community, NRI Community, PIO card, OCI card, Overseas Indian Citizen, Person of Indian Origin, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Bengaluru, Bangalore, Karnataka, India, India news, visa, multiple entry visa, citizenship, dual citizenship, lifelong visa, FRRO, foreigner registration office, visa office, immigration, immigration counter, modi, narendra modi, india news, latest news Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Source: PTI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in Bengaluru on Sunday. The event is held regularly to celebrate the Indian diaspora across the worlds and their contribution to India–both in India and abroad.

At the event, the PM urged the diaspora community to switch from their PIO cards to OCI cards. Here is all you need to know about PIO and OCI cards and what is their need?

People who go and live abroad from India can be categorised in three broad categories-NRIs, PIOs and OCIs. While NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) is essentially a term for Indians that live in another country, PIOs and OCIs are people who want to stay connected and involved with India more closely. For that same reason, the government of India issues PIO cards and OCI cards to them according to their needs.

PIO card (Person of Indian Origin) card and OCI cards (Overseas Citizen of India) give different benefits.

Benefits of a PIO card:

A PIO card holder doesn’t need a visa to visit India. The holder also doesn’t require a student or employment visa to acquire employment or academic opportunities in india.

The holder was exempted from registering at the foreigner regional registration office (FRRO) during the duration of stay in India.

The holder also enjoys parity with NRIs in concern to economic, financial and educational matters. These may include matters related to property transfer or acquisition, holding, disposal, investment, admission of children in educational institutions under general category quota for NRIs.

Separate immigration counters are provided at all International airports in India for PIO card holders.

Drawbacks of PIO card:

It does not provide voting rights to the holder. Prior permission is needed to undertake mountaineering expeditions or any such related research work in protected areas.

Meanwhile, the PM promoted the idea of converting their PIO cards with OCI cards. The OCI cards also provided several benefits.

OCI is essentially a lifetime visa status offered by India to an Indian person who has given up his citizenship.

The benefits of OCI cards are substantial.

OCI cards give you lifetime multiple entry visa to India. Also, you never have to register with the FRRO no matter how long your stay is.

If you remain an OCI for 5 years, you can attain Indian citizenship and then live in India for a period of one year including short breaks.

Special immigration counters are provided at all international airports in India for OCI card holders.

An OCI cards holder can open special bank accounts in India just like NRIs and make investments. OCI holders can also buy non-farm property and exercise ownership rights.

An OCI card allows you to apply for a driver’s license, PAN card or  open a bank account in India. You get same economic, financial and educational benefits like NRIs and you can also adopt children.

Restrictions for OCI card holders

An OCI card holder cannot vote, hold a government job or purchase agricultural or farm land. The person can also not run for public office or travel to restricted areas without permission.