Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Indians abroad to convert their PIO (People of Indian Origin) cards into OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cards immediately. With a tongue-in-cheek, "I know you all are busy" during his speech at PBD 2017 he even announced that the deadline for converting PIO cards into OCI cards has been extended till June 30, 2017.
PM Modi has encouraged PIO card holders to their cards into OCI cards within the extended deadline without any penalty. "I would again encourage all PIO Card holders to convert their PIO Cards to OCI Cards. We have extended the deadline for PIO card conversions to OCI from 31 December 2016, until June 30, 2017 without any penalty," he said.
"From 1st of January this year, beginning with Delhi & Bengaluru, we have set up special counters at immigration points for OCI cardholders," he added.
While including Girmitya countries, Modi said, "Starting with Mauritius, we are working to put in place procedures so that descendants of Girmitiyas could become eligible for OCI Cards. We remain committed to addressing similar difficulties of PIOs in Fiji, Reunion Islands, Suriname, Guyana and other Caribbean States."
Here's all you need to know about OCI cards and the registering process:
Indians living abroad are generally categorised in three categories - NRIs, PIOs and OCIs. While NRIs is a term used for people living in another countries, PIOs and OCIs are the people who want to stay connected and involved with India more closely. Considering this the Indian government issues PIO cards and OCI cards to people as per to their needs.
PIO card benefits
PIO card holders don't need a visa to visit India. They also don't require a student or employment visa to get any educational or employment opportunities in India.
They are exempted from registering at the foreigner regional registration office (FRRO) during the duration of stay in India.
The holder also enjoys parity with NRIs vis-a-vis 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.
OCI cards holders are eligible to lifetime multiple entry visa to India. Also, one doesn't have top register with the FRRO.
People of Indian Origin under certain categories who migrated from India and acquired the citizenship of a foreign country, excluding Pakistan and Bangladesh or such other country as the Central government may specify, are eligible to be granted an OCI if their home countries allow dual citizenship under their local laws.
Special immigration counters are provided at all international airports in India for OCI card holders.
OCI card holders 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. You get same economic, financial and educational benefits like NRIs and you can also adopt children.
OCI card holders cannot vote, hold a government job or purchase agricultural or farm land. They can't also travel to restricted areas without permission.
How to convert PIO card to OCI card?
If you wish to convert your PIO card to OCI, you can start with registering yourself at:
Spouses and grandchildren of OCI Cardholders
Spouses of foreign origin of an Indian citizen or spouses of foreign origin of an OCI cardholder whose marriage is registered and have been married for more than two years or more immediately before the presentation of the OCI application is also eligible for registration as OCI cardholder.
Any individual, who or either of whose parents or grandparents or great-grandparents had been citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh or the countries specified by Central Government, is not eligible for registration as an OCI cardholder.