Comparison of OCI and PIO (OCI vs PIO)

The question whether to get an OCI or PIO is a perennial one for people who have surrendered their Indian Citizenship and want to visit India regularly with no hassles. Which service to opt for depends on individual priorities and circumstances and an objective comparison of OCI and PIO might help in the decision-making process.  Below is a comparison chart with sub-categories highlighting the similarities and differences between the OCI and PIO.

OCI

PIO

Who can apply?

Any person of Indian Lineage who is a foreign citizen and holds a foreign passport.

Any person of Indian Lineage who is a foreign citizen and holds a foreign passport.

Where to apply?

CKGS Application Center in the applicant's jurisdiction.

CKGS Application Center in the applicant's jurisdiction.

Official guidelines for eligibility

Any person who:

  • Was eligible to become a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950.
  • Belonged to a territory that became a part of India after 15th of August 1947.
  •  Is a child or grandchild of a person meeting any of the criteria above.
  • Anyone who at any time has held an Indian passport.
  •  He/she or either of his/her parents or grandparents or great grandparents were born in and permanently resided in India as defined by the Government of India Act, 1935.
  •  Persons of Indian origin up to four generations back can apply for the PIO card.

Requirement of Indian Visa

Not required

Not required

Duration of entry to India

Multi-purpose multiple entry life-long permission to enter India. There is no restriction on the period of stay in India.

15 years from the date of issue of PIO card. If the stay exceeds more than 180 days the PIO holders will have to register themselves with the concerned FRRO/FRO.

Re-issue of services

Re-issue of OCI depends on age of the applicant that might prove to be restrictive.
Minors of the age 20 and below: The OCI card has to be reissued every 5 years i.e. every time a new passport is issued.
Adults 50 years and older:  Re-issue once after the passport is re-issued.
Adults between age of 21 and 49:
No need for re-issue every time passport is re-issued.  

PIO Card holders can apply for re-issue after the validity of 15 years is over. They need not apply for a new PIO Card every time a new passport is re-issued.

Relatives

Spouse of the Cardholder

Not eligible if the spouse is not of an Indian Origin.

Spouse eligible to apply even if not of Indian origin.

Children

 At least one parent must be a foreign citizen of Indian lineage.

Children born of parents who are both Indian Citizens are eligible.

General Living in India

Employment Opportunities in India

OCI Card holders do not require an employment visa and can stay in India indefinitely. No restrictions to pursue a profession except in areas that require special Protected and Restricted area permits.

PIO Card holders do not require employment visa. But if the stay exceeds 180 days they will have to register with the nearest FRO office. No restrictions to pursue a profession except in areas that require special Protected and Restricted area permits.

Education

No separate Education Visa required and children can enroll in educational institutions under the NRI quota.

No separate Education Visa required and children can enroll in educational institutions under the NRI quota.

Economic and Financial rights

Apart from investing in agricultural and plantation properties OCI card holder can get a PAN card, driver's license, open bank accounts, invest, and earn their income like regular citizens.

Apart from investing in agricultural and plantation properties PIO card holder can get a PAN card, driver's license, open bank accounts, invest, and earn their income like regular citizens.

Taxation
(Taxation laws are complicated and depend on individual circumstances, tax laws, and Double taxation laws between both the countries. Please consult an expert in taxation laws).

India: Income earned in India is liable for taxation in India. Taxation in India also depends on whether the card holder has ROR (Ordinary Resident) or RNOR (not ordinarily resident) status.
Possession of an immovable property (house, land etc) will not be taxed however the sale that results in profit of an immovable property will be taxed.

USA: USA taxes its residents on worldwide tax incomes. However the tax amount can be reduced or minimized under Double Taxation laws or DTAA.

India: Income earned in India is liable for taxation in India. Taxation in India also depends on whether the card holder has ROR (Ordinary Resident) or RNOR (not ordinarily resident) status. Possession of an immovable property (house, land etc) will not be taxed however the sale that results in profit of an immovable property will be taxed.

USA: USA taxes its residents on worldwide tax incomes. However the tax amount can be reduced or minimized under Double Taxation laws or DTAA.

Documentation and Processing

Type of Documents Issued

OCI Card and U Visa Sticker. The sticker will be attached to the passport. 

PIO Booklet with all the information of the card-holder.

Processing

2-step process:
Once the OCI card and sticker is approved by the Consulate in Delhi the applicant is required to send the passport along with the fee receipt to the CKGS. The OCI sticker will be attached to the passport.

1-step process:
The applicant has to send all the documents together as part of the application to the CKGS.

Processing Time

8-10 weeks

4-6 weeks

Interchanging status (OCI to PIO or PIO to OCI)

Usually OCI card holders do not change to PIO status.

A PIO card holder can surrender the PIO card and get an OCI card.

Restrictions

  • Cannot vote.
  • Cannot own agricultural property.
  • Cannot exercise constitutional rights like hold positions is Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, run for Indian Presidency, and become a judge in High Court or Supreme Court.
  • Permission required: Special Permit required for Missionary, Research Work, Mountaineering, and areas that require Protected Area Permit and Restricted Area Permit.
  • Cannot vote.
  • Cannot own agricultural property.
  • Cannot and cannot exercise constitutional rights like hold positions is Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, run for Indian Presidency, and become a judge in High Court or Supreme Court.
  • Permission required: Special Permit required for Missionary, Research Work, Mountaineering, and areas that require Protected Area Permit and Restricted Area Permit.

Acquisition of Indian Citizenship

  • The card holder will have to surrender the current citizenship to become an Indian Citizen as India does not allow dual citizenship.
  • OCI Card Holders can apply for Indian Citizenship 5 years after registration. However the card holder has to stay for a year in India before applying for Indian Citizenship.
  • The card holder will have to surrender the current citizenship to become an Indian Citizen as India does not allow dual citizenship.
  • As per Sections 5(1) (a) and 5 (1) (c) of the Citizenship Act the PIO Card Holders have to reside in India for minimum 7 years to acquire Indian Citizenship.

Fees

For OCI fee, visit
http://www.path2usa.com/oci-card-fees

For PIO fee, visit http://www.path2usa.com/pio-card-fees