Tuesday 30 September 2014

PIO and OCI Card Merger

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced this Sunday, 2014 that the PIO holders will now get lifetime validity and exemption from police registration which means the PIO gets the same benefit as OCI while his visit in New York.

It must be noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first to announce the merging of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and the People of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to facilitate visa-free travel to India, rights of residency and participation in business and educational activities in the country according to the Hindu, 2011.

This re-announcement by PM Modi at New York's Madison Square Garden is a pleasant surprise of us because we know many Pondicheerians have been facing difficulties due to differences between PIO and OCI cards which gives different benefits. Even though the announcement has been made in the past and again now there are no specific dates given for the merger of PIO and OCI card.

Difference between PIO and OCI Card

PIO (Person of Indian Origin) allows visa free travels for about 15 years validity with few rights, with the PIO card to be produced alongside the foreign passport or with new passport number endorsed in your PIO card when entering or departing any port in India. But the length of stay in India for more than 180 days requires reporting to police authorities.

OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India or India's dual citizenship) on the other hand allows visa free multiple entry life-long and also to have unlimited travel and stay in India. But, it requires reapplying on new OCI every time a new passport is issued. It is very important that the person carry his existing foreign passport which should include the new visa called ‘U’ visa which is a multi-purpose, multiple-entry, lifelong visa and an OCI gets a specific right to become an Indian Citizen as per Section 5(i) and (ii) of the Citizenship Act, 1955. whereas the PIO card holder does not have this facility.
pio and oci

[See Comparative Chart on NRI/PIO/PIO CARD HOLDERS/OCI]

So, with PM Modi announcement of PIO and OCI Merger, PIO and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) schemes are said to be combined and so we will getting both the benefits of PIO and OCI cards (as for the date which is yet to announced will be updated as soon as we get the details ). He also said that the American tourists will get visa on arrival and Long-term tourist visas will be introduced for US citizens at New York's Madison Square Garden.

For more, read [PM Modi in Madison Square Garden]

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