• Updated Eligibility Guidelines for Merger of PIO and OCI Cards
  • April 7, 2015
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • After last week’s merger of the Person of India Origin (PIO) card and the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, the Indian government has released updated guidelines related to the eligibility criteria for the OCI category. Key PIO guidelines have been merged with OCI guidelines.

    Guidelines for Children Born Abroad

    Children born abroad whose parents are both Indian nationals have been granted eligibility for an OCI card. Previously, they were only eligible if one of their parents was eligible for an OCI card.

    Guidelines for Foreign Spouses

    Foreign nationals married to a person of Indian origin or to an OCI card holder will qualify for an OCI card after two years of marriage. Previous eligibility rules allowed one year of marriage for card issuance.

    OCI cards issued to foreign nationals based on their spouse’s Indian origin will be cancelled if the marriage has been dissolved by a competent court of law or if either spouse has married again prior to legal dissolution.

    Nationality-Specific Eligibility

    Foreign nationals of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Iran, Nepal and Sri Lanka, who were previously not allowed to apply for PIO cards, can now apply for OCI cards if they meet all eligibility criteria.

    Pakistan and Bangladesh nationals are still not eligible for OCI cards.

    Further updates will be shared when the Indian Government releases notifications based on specific nationalities.

    OCI Card Holders with New Passports

    As per existing OCI guidelines, OCI card holders between the ages of 21 and 50 can travel to India with their old and new passports and their OCI card. OCI card holders below the age of 20 will need to update their OCI card with each new passport issued. Those over the age of 50 will be only required to update their OCI card once when they are issued a new passport.

    This will apply to all existing PIO card holders who are now deemed OCI card holders.

    What This Means for Foreign Nationals

    Foreign nationals should note that they may need to apply for an OCI card if they have a pending PIO application, as PIO applications are being returned by the Indian immigration authorities with a request that the applicant apply for an OCI card. This policy is currently in effect in the United States, and it is expected to apply across other Indian missions and registration offices soon.

    The eligibility criteria for the PIO card have been added to the existing eligibility criteria and benefits for the OCI category.