Difference Between PIO and OCI

Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), these are often the two concepts that are misunderstood by a large number people. It is no one’s fault either because they two sound very similar to each other with slight changes.

In this page, we will talk about PIO and OCI, the various difference between them, and how one can avail the respective cards.

Person of Indian Origin (PIO):

As the name suggests, a PIO is an individual who has settled in a foreign country and still intends to do his bit for the country. According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), is a foreign citizen excluding Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Iran, and Sri Lanka? A PIO is identified with the help of a PIO card, which is issued by the Government of India.

Basically, any person meeting the following criteria is a PIO:

  • A person or his/her parents/grandparents/great grandparents was born in India or were permanent residents in the country, or any of the territories that became a part of India, based on the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • A person who owned an Indian passport at one point in their lives.
  • A person who is the spouse of a PIO or a citizen of India.

What are the benefits of a PIO Card?

The PIO Card brings with it plenty of benefits for the cardholder. Here’s a list of some how to renew my rentalof the key benefits:

  • A PIO cardholder does not require a visa to visit India for a period of 15 years from the date of the card’s issue.
  • He/she does not have to register themselves in the Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO) or the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO), if they are staying for less than 180 days in the country. If their stays exceeds beyond this point, they are required to register themselves in the FRO or FRRO within the corresponding 30 days.
  • They enjoy the same level of parity when it comes to receiving economical, educational or financial benefits such as:
    • Admitting their children in Indian educational institutions under the general quota as the NRIs, including in the medical and engineering colleges, and IITs and IIMs.
    • Availing housing schemes from various state and central government agencies as well as those offered by the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
    • Holding, transferring, disposing, and acquiring various forms of immovable properties, except plantation and agricultural properties.

There are a few limitations to PIOs, however, and they are as follows:

  • They are not allowed any employment rights in Government of India undertakings.
  • They are not allowed to hold any form of constitutional office in the Government of India.
  • They are required to take permissions beforehand in order to participate in missionary activities, mountaineering, research positions, or to visit restricted areas of India.

Documents Required For A PIO Card

The PIO Card requires a prior application to be filled, along with which a number of other supporting documents must also be provided. Here’s a list of them:

  • Original passport, either existing or expired
  • At least two of the following documents:
    • Photocopy of expired Indian passport
    • Birth certificate of the applicant and their parents/ grandparents
    • Nationality certificate of the applicant and their parents/grandparents
    • School/college leaving certificates of the applicant and their parents/grandparents
    • Original or photocopies of passports of the applicant’s parent

The list of documents to be submitted by the spouse of a PIO is slightly different. These are as follows:

  • PIO Card or the Indian passport of the spouse
  • Original marriage certificate
  • Four passport-sized photographs
  • An application fee of $388, $180 in the case of children under the age of 18 years

Overseas Citizen of India

The different between PIO and OCI are slightly different. In the case of an OCI, the foreign national in question must have either been eligible to be an Indian citizen on 26 January 1950 or was a citizen at any point after this date, or if he/she belonged to a territory that became part of India on 15 August 2947 can register as an Overseas Citizen of India.

However, there is a limitation to this, which states that any citizen of either Bangladesh or Pakistan will be eligible to register themselves as an OCI at any given point of time.

What are the benefits of an OCI Card?

The OCI Card comes with a number of benefits for the cardholder. The scope of the benefits are comparatively better than those offered to a PIO cardholder. Here’s a list of all the benefits:

  • He/she does not have to register themselves in the Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO) or the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO), irrespective of the length of their stay.
  • They enjoy the same level of parity when it comes to receiving economical, educational or financial benefits such as:
    • Admitting their children in Indian educational institutions under the general quota as the NRIs, including in the medical and engineering colleges, and IITs and IIMs.
    • Availing housing schemes from various state and central government agencies as well as those offered by the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
    • Holding, transferring, disposing, and acquiring various forms of immovable properties, except plantation and agricultural properties.

Documents Required For an OCI Card

Here’s a list of documents required for every OCI Card applicant:

  • Part A of the form listed in this URL: http://mha.nic.in/uniquepage.asp?Id_Pk=553 along with Part B, which should be submitted with 4 passport photographs and all the below mentioned documents
  • Previous Indian passport. In case they don’t have a passport, they are required to submit other documents such as nativity certificate, which will be sent to India for authentication and verification purposes
  • Birth certificate.
  • Proof of citizenship in their current country, i.e., passport and local residence proof
  • In case the applicant is applying based on their parent’s Indian citizenship, they are required to offer the proof of their relationship.
  • Apart from all the documents, a duplicate of the same should be attached with the application

Basic differences between PIO Card and OCI Card

In this section, we will provide a tabulated column which gives an idea of what the difference between PIO and OCI cards.

Note: All the currency mentioned is in US$.

Category OCI Card PIO Card
Fees $275 $25 in case the applicant already has a PIO Card $25 for miscellaneous services due to the change of passport $388
Registration in FRO/FRRO Not required, irrespective of the period of stay Need to be updated after 180 days, for which an additional 30 days are provided
Visa validity Lifelong validity once it is issued Valid for 15 years once it is issued
Can they obtain Indian citizenship? Citizenship can be obtained after five years of holding the OCI. However, they need to stay in India for a minimum of 1 year One can apply for a citizenship after staying in the country for a minimum of 7 years
Access to restricted areas No permission required Only after prior permission is obtained

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