The scheme allowing conversion of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards free of cost will come to an end on Sunday, a home ministry official said here today. The official told PTI that the government has decided not to give any more extension beyond the December 31 deadline. However, the conversion would continue beyond the date on payment of fees, the official said requesting anonymity. “As of now, there is no proposal to extend the deadline further as the bulk of people – around 30 lakh – have already converted their PIO cards into OCI cards,” the official said. The home ministry had extended the deadline on four earlier occasions. The PIO card was first implemented in 2002 as a benefit to foreign nationals who could establish at least a third generation tie to Indian origin. The PIO card was valid for travel, work, and residence in India for a period of 15 years. The OCI card was implemented in 2005, carried more expansive benefits than the PIO card, and was valid for the holder’s lifetime.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced in 2014 that the two types of cards would be merged and the Indian diaspora would be given maximum possible benefits. Simultaneous existence of PIO and OCI cards led to confusion among People of Indian Origin residing abroad, the official said.