A Person of Indian Origin (PIO) means

a foreign citizen (except a national of Pakistan, Afghanistan Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal) who at any time held an Indian passport


who or either of their parents/ grand parents/ great grand parents was born and permanently resident in India as defined in Government of India Act, 1935 and other territories that became part of India thereafter provided neither was at any time a citizen of any of the aforesaid countries ( as referred above);


Who is a spouse of a citizen of India or a PIO

Benefits of a PIO card:-

(i) PIO card holders do not require a visa to visit India for a period of 15 years from the date of issue of the PIO card.

(ii) They are exempted from registration at FRRO/FRO if their stay does not exceeds 180 days, Incase if the stay exceeds 180 days, they shall have to register with FRRO/ FRO within the next 30 days.

(iii) They enjoy parity with NRIs in economic, financial and educational benefits like:-

Acquisition, holding, transfer and disposal of immovable properties in India, except agricultural/ plantation properties

Admission of children to educational institutions in India under general category quota for NRIs, including medical and engineering college, IITs, IIMs etc

Availing Various housing schemes of LIC of India, State Government and Central Government agencies

All future benefits that would be exempted to NRIs would also be available to the PIO card holders.

However, PIOs do not enjoy employment rights in Government of India services nor can they hold any constitutional office in the Government of India.

They need prior permission for undertaking mountaineering, missionary activities, research work and to visit restricted areas in India.


A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India on 26.01.1950 or was a citizen of India on or at anytime after 26.01.1950 or belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947 is eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI). Minor children of such person are also eligible for OCI. However, if the applicant had ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, he/she will not be eligible for OCI.


OCIs are entitled to a multipurpose, multiple entry, lifelong visa allowing them to visit India at any time, for any length of time and for any purpose. They are exempted from police reporting for any length of stay in the country. They have also been granted all rights in the economic, financial and education fields in parity with NRIs except, the right to acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.

PIO card (Person of Indian Origin) card and OCI cards (Overseas Citizen of India) give different benefits.

A PIO card holder doesn’t need a visa to visit India. The holder also doesn’t require a student or employment visa to acquire employment or academic opportunities in india.

The holder was exempted from registering at the foreigner regional registration office (FRRO) during the duration of stay in India.

The holder also enjoys parity with NRIs in concern to economic, financial and educational matters. These may include matters related to property transfer or acquisition, holding, disposal, investment, admission of children in educational institutions under general category quota for NRIs.

Separate immigration counters are provided at all International airports in India for PIO card holders.

Drawbacks of PIO card:

It does not provide voting rights to the holder. Prior permission is needed to undertake mountaineering expeditions or any such related research work in protected areas.

Meanwhile, the PM promoted the idea of converting their PIO cards with OCI cards. The OCI cards also provided several benefits.

OCI is essentially a lifetime visa status offered by India to an Indian person who has given up his citizenship.

The benefits of OCI cards are substantial.

OCI cards give you lifetime multiple entry visa to India. Also, you never have to register with the FRRO no matter how long your stay is.

If you remain an OCI for 5 years, you can attain Indian citizenship and then live in India for a period of one year including short breaks.

Special immigration counters are provided at all international airports in India for OCI card holders.

An OCI cards holder can open special bank accounts in India just like NRIs and make investments. OCI holders can also buy non-farm property and exercise ownership rights.

An OCI card allows you to apply for a driver’s license, PAN card or  open a bank account in India. You get same economic, financial and educational benefits like NRIs and you can also adopt children.

Restrictions for OCI card holders

An OCI card holder cannot vote, hold a government job or purchase agricultural or farm land. The person can also not run for public office or travel to restricted areas without permission.


Amendments under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015

The Amendment Act (which amended the Act) was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 27 February 2015 and passed by the Lok Sabha on 2 March 2015. The bill was subsequently introduced in the Rajya Sabha and was cleared on 4 March 2015. The bill received the assent of the President of India on 10 March 2015 and is deemed to have come into force on 6 January 2015. The Amendment Act introduces the concept of an ‘Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder’ (an “OCC”) that essentially replaces and merges together OCIs and PIOs.

Transitional measures for current PIO Cardholders

In light of the merger of the PIO and OCI status under the Amendment Act, the following transitional measures have been put in place;

Current PIO cardholders are automatically considered OCI cardholders and are not required to obtain an OCI card unless they choose to do so;

Applicants with approved PIO card applications, but whose cards have not yet been issued shall be issued with a PIO card and shall automatically be considered to have OCI status;

Applicants with pending but not approved PIO card applications will likely have their applications returned by the Indian authorities with the request to reapply through the OCI scheme.

According to legal experts, illegal migrants cannot seek the status of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO).

Illegal migrants:

Illegal immigrant generally refers to any foreigner who:

Entered India without the required travel documents such as a passport and visa:


Entered India with valid documents but overstayed the permitted time specified in their visa.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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