What is the change? The Embassy of India in the U.S. and U.K. are requiring holders of previously issued Person of Indian Origin cards to obtain an Overseas Citizen of India card.

What does the change mean? PIO card holders living abroad in the U.K., U.S. and other countries are advised to convert to OCI cards according to the regional deadlines set by the Indian embassies.

  • Implementation time frame: The conversion of PIO cards to OCI cards became mandatory April 8 in the U.K. and will become mandatory June 18 in the U.S.
  • Visas/permits affected: PIO and OCI cards.
  • Who is affected: PIO card holders.
  • Impact on processing times: OCI card requests take six to eight weeks in the U.K. and eight to 10 weeks in the U.S.
  • Business impact: Business travelers relying on PIO cards should be aware of rule changes to PIO cards by the Indian consular posts in their country and jurisdiction of residence.
  • Next steps: PIO card holders who obtained their PIO card in the U.K. or U.S. should submit an application for an OCI card as soon as possible.

Background: The PIO card was merged into the OCI card in January. Originally, the Indian government said that current PIO holders would not be required to convert to OCI cards, but could voluntarily submit their PIO card to an Indian embassy or local Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to have their card endorsed with lifetime validity.

However, the Indian Embassy in the U.S. has announced through its consular services contractor that PIO card holders may apply for an “OCI in lieu of PIO” conversion on a voluntary basis until June 17 before conversion becomes mandatory June 18. Similarly, the Indian Embassy in the U.K. began requiring PIO holders to convert to OCI cards April 8.

As BAL reported last month, the FRRO in Mumbai is no longer endorsing PIO cards and is requiring all PIO card holders to obtain an OCI card by the end of June.

BAL Analysis: Given the varying interpretations of immigration rules by authorities in India and at consulates abroad, members of the Indian diaspora holding PIO cards should confirm local policies regarding maintaining their PIO/OCI status. Because the “OCI in lieu of PIO” conversion can only be completed by the same consular post or FRRO that issued the PIO card, those who have moved to another jurisdiction may have to apply for a new OCI card, which carries higher government fees than the conversion process.

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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