PIO (Person of Indian
Origin) and OCI (Overseas Citizen of India)
Q: What is difference between PIO and OCI status?
A: Both the PIO (Person of Indian Origin) and OCI (Overseas
Citizen of India) were introduced by the Government of India to
facilitate visa-free entry for members of the Indian diaspora to
The OCI was initially intended for those Indian nationals who had
taken foreign nationality or for foreign national children whose
parents (both) were Indian nationals. It is of lifelong validity. In
addition, OCI cardholders have always been exempt from having to
register at the local Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs),
regardless of the duration of their stay in India.
The PIO, on the other hand, was initially issued to individuals who
had one parent who was an Indian, to those of Indian descent or to
spouses of Indian nationals. It was of a 15-year validity. PIO
cardholders were required to undergo registration formalities
through the local FRROs when in India.
The Indian government’s decision to merge the PIO card scheme into
that of the OCI scheme, in January 2015, was mainly to overcome
cases of confusion and inconsistent issuance.
As per instructions by the Government of India, all applicants for
PIO would now be eligible for the OCI, with requisite clearances. In
addition, all PIOs issued until then, were deemed to be of lifelong
validity, with instructions that the cardholders be advised to
convert the same to OCI cards, free-of-charge, by submitting the
necessary forms and requisite documents.
There is plenty of information available on our website about PIO
and OCI, including, for instance, details on the restrictions and
benefits available to OCI cardholders.