This means that anyone holding a PIO card at the time of the PIO and OCI merger as a result inherits the benefits and rights of the OCI card scheme. However, the card holder has to convert his existing PIO card to an OCI card if hasn’t already done so before September 30, 2019. Now, all PIO card holders have to apply to a VFS Global center and apply for an OCI for a fee. This service is available until September 30, 2019, after which, the PIO card will be deemed invalid and traveling without a valid OCI card is not advisable.
PIO & OCI Merger
The PIO and OCI schemes were merged to maximize benefits and reduce immigration procedures for non-resident Indians (NRIs) visiting India. The last date for applying for a OCI card in lieu of the discontinued PIO card was 31st October, 2018. After this date, requesting an OCI card will incur a fee. Traveling on a PIO card post after September 30, 2019 will not be acceptable. As a result of the merger, former Indian citizens receive benefits from both PIO and OCI card schemes. Current PIO cardholders now receive greater work, residence, and political benefits and are no longer required to undergo registration protocols through Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRROs).
Prior to the PIO and OCI merger, the PIO card was used to increase travel to India among non-resident Indians (NRIs) and facilitate the travel procedures involved in visiting India. The PIO card provided exemption from the registration requirement for visiting India, along with other benefits that were not as extensive as those of the OCI category.
Persons eligible for a PIO card included those who at any time had held an Indian passport; those whose parents/grandparents/great grandparents were born in and residents of India; spouses of persons of Indian origin; and persons of Indian origin up to four generations back excluding certain countries.
Current PIO Cardholders
Current PIO cardholders automatically become OCI cardholders. PIO cardholders are encouraged to apply for one. PIO cardholders who are applying for any of the categories listed below must apply for OCI in Lieu of PIO Card.
- PIO Cardholder Name Change
- PIO Cardholder PIO Card Expired
- PIO Cardholder Passport Lost/Damaged
- PIO Cardholder Passport Expired
- PIO Cardholder Damaged PIO Card
Existing PIO cards have life-long validity, which is authorized at the first immigration point at which the PIO cardholder arrives. These immigration points may include Indian Missions and Embassies, FRROs, or immigration checkpoints. However, receiving authorization, endorsements, or stamps for a PIO card is not mandatory.
Apply for OCI Card
Since the PIO scheme is no longer in existence, applicants may only apply for an OCI card. There is a separate online application for OCI card in lieu of PIO card. Only those who hold a PIO card and meet the eligibility requirements for OCI card may apply for OCI in lieu of PIO card category. Applicants are advised to apply at least 2 months prior to their intended travel date but before September 30, 2018, after which all PIO cards will be deemed invalid.
Learn more about the eligibility, benefits, and application process for the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) category.
Renounce PIO Card
To renounce your PIO card, learn how to apply for Renunciation of PIO.
For more information about the recent PIO and OCI merger, read about the Indian Government’s Merge of PIO and OCI Categories.