After December 31, 2017 traveling on a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card to India will not be valid and could be potentially denied entry on arrival. Travelers should either convert to an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card or apply for a visa. It takes approximately 10 days for the conversion process and can be done online. After the December 31st deadline, there will be a fee for all conversions as well. Starting September 30, 2019 traveling with a PIO card will be deemed invalid.
This move intends to facilitate quicker immigration clearance at the Immigration Check Posts in India and is helpful in obtaining various Consular Services from the Indian Missions abroad. By having a universal identity for all Non-resident Indians, the process of streamlining various features for them becomes easier. The conversion of PIO cards to OCI can be done online, to learn more about the process: OCI Card in Lieu of PIO Card.
Besides being able travel to India unfettered, an OCI card holder has many benefits that serve to benefit Indian immigrants within the United States.
- Multiple entries allowed to India
- No limitations on period of stay
- Exemption from registering at the local Foreigners (Regional) Registration Office (FRRO) regardless of the duration of their stay in India
- Can own property
- Can study in India under NRI quota
- Have a bank account
- Invest and conduct monetary transactions within India
- Can apply for a PAN card and a driver’s license
- Has to be reissued only with renewal of passport
- Can remain in India without a work permit or education visa
For more information, on the history of the merger of the PIO and OCI cards check details at Merged PIO and OCI.