What is the change? All Persons of Indian Origin cards are now valid for the cardholder’s life.

What does the change mean? Holders of current PIO cards effectively have been given a lifetime visa. The change affects both new applicants and current PIO cardholders.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: PIO cards.
  • Who is affected: Foreigners holding or applying for PIO cards.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing times may lengthen if there is a rush to obtain PIO cards because of the change. No delays have yet been reported, however, and over time the change will save time as cardholders will not have to renew their PIO cards.
  • Business impact: The changes will make travel and immigration procedures easier for PIO cardholders traveling for business purposes.
  • Next steps: PIO cards are now valid for a cardholder’s lifetime. The Indian government is currently working on merging PIO cards with the Overseas Citizen of India cards, but has not provided details yet.

Background: During a speech in New York on Sept. 28, Prime Minister Modi promised lifetime visas for PIO cardholders and visas on arrival for U.S. nationals visiting India.

The Indian government announced Sept. 30 that PIO cards would be valid for the cardholder’s lifetime, rather than for 15 years. “This effectively fulfills the Prime Minister’s announcement that PIO cardholders would enjoy a lifelong visa to India,” Modi’s office said in a statement. Modi’s office also announced that “PIO cardholders would be exempt from police reporting” requirements. However, this provision has not been fully implemented and some local officers are continuing to require registration by PIO cardholders.

Modi’s office further indicated that visas on arrival for U.S. travelers could be available this month: “Systems are in place to introduce visa on arrival for US tourists in October itself.” Modi’s office said that “unless there are exceptional circumstances,” visas to U.S. nationals should be given for a period of 10 years.

BAL Analysis: The Indian government appears to be moving relatively quickly toward implementing the pledges Modi made in his Madison Square Garden speech. The lifetime PIO cards make working in India or traveling to the country for business easier for those who are eligible. Business trips will soon be easier for U.S. nationals as well. It should be noted, however, that while the implementation of visas on arrival seems imminent, it has not yet occurred. For the time being, travel to India by U.S. nationals still requires securing a visa before departure.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in India. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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