What is the change? India has merged its Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards with its Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards.

What does the change mean? The merger eliminates red tape for members of the Indian diaspora who return to India for long-term stays.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: PIO and OCI cards.
  • Who is affected: Current holders of PIO cards and those applying for OCI cards.
  • Impact on processing times: No anticipated change.
  • Business impact: The change benefits foreign spouses and minor children of Indian citizens residing abroad, as well as individuals of Indian origin with foreign citizenship.
  • Next steps: As PIO cards will cease to be issued, new applicants and those with pending PIO applications must apply for OCI cards instead.

Background: Under the change, PIO cards have essentially been eliminated and their benefits have been incorporated into OCI cards. As of Jan. 9, current PIO-card holders are deemed to be OCI-card holders. OCI cards are valid for the life of the card holder.

In addition, the following people are now eligible for OCI cards:

  1. Spouses of Indian citizens and spouses of OCI-card holders, where the marriage is registered and has lasted at least two years.
  2. Minor children whose parents are Indian citizens.
  3. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Indian citizens and children of OCI-card holders.

BAL Analysis: The merger of the two cards into one OCI card will reduce confusion and provide additional benefits. Previously issued PIO cards now hold lifetime validity rather than expiration after 15 years. Those who hold OCI cards and existing PIO cards will no longer need to register with the Federal Foreigners Registration Office or a police station when visiting India.

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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