Benefits and Drawbacks of Being PIO and OCI

August 2, 2019

Benefits and Drawbacks of Being PIO and OCI

Around 30 million Indians are dwelling across the foreign countries. Whatever is their reason to relocate, eventually, they have to give up their residential status. But there are different validations that decide their status. For instance, the person who spends at least 182 days or 365 days in a financial year is identified as a non-resident of India (NRI). Likewise, there are two more criteria that define the status of PIO & OCI.

Who are PIOs?

PIO aka person of Indian origin is the card that defines the person who:
· Used to be a citizen of India and have its passport.
· Is the heir of the family whose one ancestor of his/her four generations hails from India. They can be parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
· Is married to the citizen of India or an existing PIO.
· Is not the citizen of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, China, Iran or Nepal.
· Is not the relative of the one belonging to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, China, Iran or Nepal.

What PIOs can do?

The person who fulfills the above-told criteria can claim multiple benefits providing PIO card. Such persons are eligible to:
· Fly across India without needing visa multiple times.
· Take admission in Indian schools, institutions or get employed or acquire proprietorship. Their PIO card will be the license to shift its business to India also.
· Enjoy hasty processing & verifications at India’s immigration check post.
· Get exempted from the police verification. But, they have to get a police clearance certificate for submission at the immigration counter if their stay exceeds 180 days here.

· Get exempted to submit police clearance certificate for their minors (up to 16 years of age).
· Enjoy parity with the NRIs in the context of economic, financial and educational leverages. All these matters include transfer, hold or acquisition of residential or commercial property and investment under the general category of NRIs.
· Apply for PAN card, driving license, Aadhaar Card, and opening a bank account in India.
· Get registered to the FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office) when stating in India.

What are its drawbacks?

In parallel to various benefits of having a PIO card, the card-holders have many limitations. Want to know what are those? Let’s catch them below:
· They don’t have the right to acquire agricultural land and plantation property or farmhouse.
· They can’t vote.
· No political position can ever be theirs.
· Government jobs are not meant for them.
· They can’t practice in medicine here.
· Certain regions and places are considered as the restricted zone for them in India.
· They are barred from undertaking any missionary work, mountaineering, and research work until and unless the government has permitted.
· They have to give up the citizenship of any other country.

Who are OCIs?

An Overseas Citizen of India or OCI is the license to get a lifelong visa to travel seamlessly across India. Its holder is defined as:
· The one who formerly resigned Indian citizenship.
· The one whose parents, grandparents or great grandparents were once the citizens of India.
· The one who is married to an existing OCI or India’s citizen and the wedding is at least two years old.

The criteria that foretold under the ‘PIO’ header are identically executed in the case of OCIs also but with just an addition, i.e.:
· The one who has been in the armed force or surveillance department of any foreign country.

What can they do?

· The cardholder can travel without a visa in India multiple times for lifelong.
· They can become the citizen of this country if they continue to retain OCI card for 5 years. But here is a condition applied that that person would have spent at least one year in India. And also, the breaks for short intervals are allowed.
· Immigration check posts have separate counters for their speedy verification and entry.
· Separate visa for student and employment is not needed.
· They can open NRE, NRO or FCNR account in Indian banks.
· Indian market, except non-farm property and exercise property ownership rights, is open for them to invest.
· They can use it for getting a driving license and PAN Card.
· Economic, financial and educational leverages will be theirs just like NRIs.
· They can visit National Parks, monuments, Wild Life Sanctuaries and museums provided they have paid the requisite fee for OCIs.
· They also can be registered with FRRO. No time of stay is considered in their case.

What are its drawbacks?

· Buying agricultural land or farmhouse or plantation property is not their right.
· They can’t vote like PIOs.
· They can’t run public office also.
· Government jobs & political positions are not for them.
· Need special permission to visit certain restricted locations here.

How to convert PIO into OCIs?

The introduction of Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2015 has led PIOs for conversion into OCIs. The date for applying to convert PIO to OCI has been extended thrice. June 30th of 2017 is the deadline till then the conversion applications are accepted.

The PIO card-holders should visit FRRO for merging their card while staying in India. Otherwise, they can go through outsourcing NRI services websites to know how to apply for it online. Since the process is time-consuming, the applicants must hurry. As far as the fee is concerned, it depends on the nationality which can be variable. Normally, an adult is charge INR 15,000 and INR 8,000 are fixed for the minors in India.

Which documents are required for merging PIO into OCI card?
· Present citizenship proof
· Proof of former citizenship
· Proof of resigning the former citizenship
· Proof of relationship with India’s native.

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