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Conversion of PIO to OCI cards to cost fee after December 31

The Ministry of Home Affairs has announced the fee plan after the latest deadline. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia
The Ministry of Home Affairs has announced the fee plan after the latest deadline. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

The Indian government has announced a negative incentive to get people of Indian-origin to convert their cards. The conversion of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) Cards to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards will not be free beyond December 31, 2017, the ministry of home affairs has stated. Those looking to convert their PIO cards to OCI cards in 2018 will be permitted to do so only on payment of a fee.

The PIO cards will become invalid travel documents after October 2018, and therefore the ministry has urged all persons of Indian origin to get their handwritten PIO cards converted to machine readable OCI cards before October 2018.

According to a Times of India report, PIOs have been given repeated reminders by the ministry to apply for conversion of OCI cards, after the two cards were merged in January 2015. Prior to this, PIO cards were valid for a period of 15 years and allowed persons of Indian origin who had acquired citizenship of another country to stay in India for 180 days before they were required to report to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO).

The FRROs were instructed not to issue any more PIO cards and have been directing applicants to apply for OCI cards instead. As a temporary measure, initially PIO cards were stamped with lifelong visas and card holders weren't required to report to the police when their stay in India exceeded 180 days.

Since India doesn't permit dual citizenship, the OCI card holder comes to the rescue of persons of Indian origin who have acquired a foreign citizenship, allowing them multiple entry lifelong visa to India and unlimited period of stay in the country. OCI card holders, however, aren't allowed to vote or acquire agricultural or plantation properties.

Tushaar Kuthiala
Tushaar Kuthiala – Associate Editor

Tushaar has extensive experience as a journalist and in founding two start-up newspapers. He has developed editorial models for both copy and content, and has written several articles, news reports on a wide range of topics. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College and earned a post-graduate diploma in TV Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He has worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation.