PIO Vs OCI
For Indians living in the
USA (or any other country), at some time, the question will hit you:
What to go for? PIO Card or OCI?
PIO stands for Person of
Indian Origin. PIO card is a kind of 15 visa for India. OCI stands for
Overseas Citizenship of India. Here is some comparison between OCI and
OVERSEAS CITIZEN CARD (OCI) AND PIO CARD ARE LIKELY TO BE MERGED
At the inaugural session of GOPIO/PBD, Minister
for overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) Vayalar Ravi announced the
merger of the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and People of Indian
Origin (PIO) to a single card. The minister made this announcement
at the inaugural session of the 11th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya
Divas (PBD), the NRI conclave that began in Kochi on January 7,
2013. In general, PIO cards are issued to Indians who have been
staying abroad for couple of generations while OCI cards are given
to those who are more recent migrants and have taken citizenships
in other countries. The OCI cards are practically visas that enable
its holders to enter India for an indefinite period, while PIO
card holders have to apply for separate visas.
The merging of
these two cards could make PIO card holders also eligible for
the benefits that are enjoyed by OCI card holders. Minister Ravi
said the proposed amendment to the Emigration Act 1983 had been
circulated to other ministries for comments. Once the comments
are received, the bill would be sent to the Prime Minister for
approval. Subsequently the cabinet has to approve it before it
is placed before the Parliament.
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It is important to know one
distinction about different terms.
- If you are born in India
and living in India, you are an Indian (unless you specifically
acquired citizenship of some other country).
- If you migrate to USA
or some other country but still holding Indian citizenship, you are
an NRI (Non Resident Indian)
- If you acquire citizenship
of some country (say USA), you are no longer an Indian or NRI. You
are now PIO (Person of Indian Origin). Acquiring greencard
does not make any difference here. It is the citizenship of other
country that makes difference. Also keep in mind the distinction between
PIO and PIO card. A person is a PIO or NRI but PIO card is a type
of visa/privilege with regard to entering into India.
- OCI is Overseas Citizenship
of India. They card you get after you acquire OCI is OCI card.
If you are an Indian or NRI,
you do not need to worry about PIO card or OCI. You are free to enter
India whenever you want. Stay in India as long as you want. Things will
change when your child is born outside India. That child will acquire
citizenship of the country where he/she is born. He is a PIO- person
of Indian Origin. Though you do not need Visa to enter India, your child
will need one. Now you will have to learn about PIO card or OCI. Fortunately,
it still very simple. If you and your spouse are still Indian or NRI,
your child does not qualify for OCI yet. Only when you or your spouse
becomes PIO, then only your child will qualify for PIO. Currently Foreign-born
children of both Indian Parents are not eligible for OCI card.
Now if you become citizen
of some other country (AKA PIO), you have a choice. You can go for PIO
card or for an OCI. This is also true for your foreign born children.
They can also go for PIO or OCI card.
What are the benefits of an OCI?
Following benefits will be
allowed to an OCI:
(a) Multi-purpose, multiple
entry, lifelong visa for visiting India.
(b) Exemption from registration with local police authority for any
length of stay in India.
(c) Parity with NRIs in respect of economic, financial and education
fields except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural/plantation
Which is better: PIO or OCI?
What are the advantages
of the OCI when compared to PIO cardholders
(i) An OCI is entitled to
life long visa with free travel to India whereas for a PIO card holder,
it is only valid for 15 years.
(ii) A PIO cardholder is
required to register with local Police authority for any stay exceeding
180 days in India on any single visit whereas an OCI is exempted from
registration with Police authority for any length of stay in India.
(iii) An OCI gets a specific
right to become an Indian Citizen, whereas the PIO card holder does
not have this.It depends. Let us look at some cases.
Finance perspective: Which one is
On the face value, OCI is
cheaper. It costs $275 for US citizens and $295 for non-US citizen adults.
OCI also lasts life-long. PIO card on the other hand costs $365 for
an adult and $185 for kids below 18 years or lower.
Time perspective: You need visas
If you need to go to India
within 4 months of less, do not take risk with OCI unless you are applying
to Consulate in San Francisco, USA. Currently the OCI applications are
processed centrally in the New Delhi, India. So your embassy or consulate
will send you application to India and once it is processed, it will
travel back to your consulate or embassy. They will then ask you to
deposit your passport to stamp OCI in your passport. This whole thing
normally takes 3 to 4 months. On the other hand, PIO card can be in
your hands within 2 to 4 weeks. Only exception is the Indian Consulate
in San Francisco. They ask you to send in your original US passport
with your application. The OCI application with them takes around 3
to 4 weeks.
Now if because of urgency,
you decide to go for PIO card, no worries. When you get back from India,
you can convert your PIO card into OCI pretty easily and cheaply. It
costs $25 for a PIO card holder to get OCI if you are a US citizen.
It is $45 for non-US citizen PIO card holders.
Validity: OCI Vs PIO
PIO card last 15 years. OCI
Government Job: OCI Vs PIO
None of them helps. PIO or
OCI card disqualifies from any government job in India.
Study in India: OCI Vs PIO
With either card, you can
study in India under NRI quota.
Voting Rights: OCI Vs PIO
Neither PIO card nor OCI
entitles you to vote in elections in India.
Reporting to police authorities while
in India: OCI Vs PIO
PIO card holders are required
to report to police authorities if you are staying more than 180 days
in India. For OCI, there is no such need.
Acquiring back Indian Citizenship:
OCI Vs PIO
PIO card holder can acquire
Indian Citizenship after living in India for 7 years. OCI card holder
needs to wait for 5 years and must have stayed in India for at least
Photo requirements PIO vs OCI
Looks like both of them ask
for same kind of passport photos with application. However different
consulates in the USA ask for different size of passport photos, different
background for passport pictures and different number of copies.
*IMPORTANT NOTE FOR OCI
is the same as US Passport photo size however photos taken at your local
Costco, Walgreens or CVS probably will not work for most consulates
as NIC above requires ***NOT WHITE*** background and 80% coverage by
face in the photo. Most US Passport photos printed at local stores (Costco,
Walgreens, Kinkos, CVS, Walmart etc) typically have 25%-35% face coverage
with mostly white background.
Your best option is to order
your OCI Photos with us.
The addresses of the Indian Diplomatic Missions in
the U.S. and their Consular Jurisdictions are given below:
Above info not enough on
PIO Vs OCI? Here is the document from Indian
Consulate at San Francisco on PIO
Vs OCI Vs Various Visas for India